For Santoshi Bande, a smile on the face of her friends while cooking is more important than spending time leisurely. This is the reason she chose to motivate other women in her village to adopt improved cook stoves during her free time. 45 years old Santoshi Bande is a resident of Chitkwain Village of Jashpur district in Chhattisgarh. Her husband is a teacher in a primary government school. Due to secured income of her husband, Santoshi is able to prepare her household meals using LPG. But, other households in her neighborhood are not fortunate like her to afford LPG. Those women still use   traditional cook stoves for preparing meals.

Santoshi felt very sad seeing her  friends travel long distances to forest to collect firewood every alternate day, cooking with teary eyes in smoke filled kitchen, struggling hard to clean the blackened utensils etc. For a long time she was thinking of doing something for these women to give them some respite from these problems but she was unable to find a way. When a Sustainable Household Energy School was formed under BACHAT in the village she chose to be one of the first entrants in the school. Santoshi  decided to learn about ICS participating in the SHE School sessions and share her learnings with others. Since then she has been a strong advocate of ICS in her village.

“Taking a step forward requires a lot of courage and time. But once you take the step, it keeps you going. There are  many such steps to undertake. Attending the SHE School has equipped me to convince and influence other women and their families to bring an ICS to home for a comfortable cooking. I am thankful to my husband for supporting me. Sometimes, my husband also attends the SHE School sessions and project events and that’s how he has acquired information and speaks along with me on the benefits of cooking in improved cook stoves”, says Santoshi happily.

Santoshi takes a pride of motivating 25 households to adopt ICS. Besides, a few households purchased ICS to gift to their relatives. However, this has not been an easy task for her. Santoshi has to repeatedly talk about household air pollution, adverse health impacts of cooking in traditional cook stove, concerns of climate change, positive impacts of ICS and so on. She has to keep on answering to the questions of others until they feel convinced which makes her tired at times. But, this has not broken her spirit. Santoshi is delighted to see her fellow members enjoying cooking on ICS and is determined to keep on convincing others in her village to switch from traditional cook stove to improved cook stove.


Digvijay Kumar