In the heart of Gujarat, nestled amidst the vast landscapes, lies the village of Hanvantpada. This humble abode of over 250 households has been witnessing a quiet revolution, led by two women who dared to challenge the status quo and bring about a change that has transformed the lives of their community members. This is the story of Varshaben and Lalitaben, the SHE Champions of Hanvantpada, who have been instrumental in transitioning their village to clean energy solutions.

Every day, women in Hanvantpada embarked on a perilous journey, walking 7 to 8 kilometres to collect firewood. The journey was fraught with dangers, from snake bites to encounters with wild animals, not to mention the sheer darkness that enveloped them. The process was time-consuming, taking up to a quarter of their day. But Varshaben and Lalitaben decided it was time for a change.

Belonging to marginalised families, these two women exhibited leadership skills that belied their humble backgrounds. With the support of CARE India’s training and workshops, they rose to become community influencers, championing the need for cleaner air inside their homes. They knew all too well the ill-effects of indoor air pollution, having experienced it first-hand.

Varshaben and Lalitaben mobilised collectives and established 10 SHE Schools in the village. They regularly organised Awareness Generation sessions, introducing and demonstrating a variety of Improved Cook Stoves (ICS) through the cooking and tasting of local meals. They ensured that community members had hands-on experiences before selecting and adopting clean energy solutions.

Their efforts have borne fruit. The ICS and Sarla Stoves have now been adopted by 276 households in Hanvantpada village. The women are happier, and so are their families, as Varshaben and Lalitaben continue to improve lives within their community.

About The Programme

The Enabling Switching to Clean Alternatives (ESCA) programme, supported by Shell Energy Private Limited, is a transformative initiative that aims to promote the transition of 6000 traditional cookstove dependent households to clean energy options. The programme operates in Umarpada and Dang, Gujarat, and focuses on capacity building, collectivisation, market development, and multi-stakeholder engagement actions. The success story of Hanvantpada village is a testament to the potential of this programme in bringing about a sustainable change in rural India, one village at a time.