In the heart of Pipaldahad village, nestled in the Subir Block of Gujarat’s Dang district, a tale of resilience and transformation unfolds. This is the story of Heenaben, a woman who single-handedly supports a family of ten and has revolutionised her household with the adoption of an Improved Cook Stove (ICS).

Heenaben’s journey began with a problem that plagued many households in her village – the traditional cookstove. The persistent smoke from the stove caused discomfort and itching in the eyes of her sister, who had recently undergone eye surgery. The solution came in the form of an ICS, which significantly reduced harmful emissions and made the indoor environment of Heenaben’s house much cleaner.

As the primary breadwinner, Heenaben chose not to marry and instead started her tailoring business. She also took care of the family’s livestock, which included five cows and two oxen. However, the daily 7 km journey to gather fuelwood from the nearby jungle was a struggle, especially while juggling her business and household chores.

The turning point came when CARE India initiated SHE School sessions in Pipaldahad, with the support of Shell India Private Limited. These sessions educated women about the need to switch to cleaner cooking alternatives and highlighted the negative health impact of traditional cooking burners, or Chulhas.

Heenaben’s enthusiasm for active participation in the training led to her being named a SHE School leader. She also brought about change in her own household by opting for the Agneeka Economic ICS, which saved her time.

Now, Heenaben’s family of ten only needs one kg of wood every day to prepare their meals, and the stove is at a comfortable height for Heenaben to sit and cook. Through her hard work and the aid of her ICS cookstove, Heenaben not only supports her family, but also ensures a better future for her sister’s daughters through education. One is studying for a B.Sc. degree, and the other is preparing for her 12th-grade exams.

Convinced by its benefits, Heenaben now wishes to promote the usage of ICS in nearby non-project villages. She believes that the drudgery of women can be alleviated with the help of ICS. “ICS cookstove is saving time, fuelwood and our forest. Through the extra time I get from cooking on ICS, I stitch more clothes at my shop and earn more,” adds Heenaben.

About The Programme

The Enabling Switching to Clean Alternatives (ESCA) programme, supported by Shell Energy Private Limited, aims to promote the transition of 6000 traditional cookstove dependent households to clean energy options. The programme operates in Vadpada, Umarpada, and Dang, Gujarat, focusing on capacity building, collectivisation, market development, and multi-stakeholder engagement actions. The story of Heenaben is a testament to the transformative power of this programme, showcasing how cleaner cooking solutions can strengthen families and empower women.