Joining hands to pioneer improved stoves in Honduras (Story of Change)


Blog

The Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV) leads the Voice for Change Partnership (V4CP) in collaboration with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), and in partnership with the Dutch Directorate-General for International Cooperation (DGIS).

V4CP is working with 51 locally-based civil society organisations (CSOs) around the world to bridge the gap between the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their implementation within society, especially amongst low-income and marginalised communities. It does so by strengthening the capacity of CSOs to influence stakeholders and decision-makers with solid and contextualised evidence in order to get the interests of communities embedded into government and business policies and practices.

This is the story of how the clean cooking sector in Honduras has been unified through the establishment of the Inter-institutional Platform for the Development of the Improved Stoves Value Chain. It explains how the voices and technical expertise of platform members are being included in the formation of a National Strategy for the Adoption of Efficient Stoves.

Manuel Mejia, Executive Director of Hermandad de Honduras

Waiting in an empty room, Mr Manuel Mejia of Hermandad de Honduras (HdH) - a local civil society organisation (CSO) that is supported by the Voice for Change Partnership (V4CP) programme in Honduras - is the first to arrive at the venue where the Inter-institutional Platform for the Development of the Improved Stoves Value Chain convenes regularly.

HdH, which advocates social, economic and financial development, is driving greater access to quality renewable energy (RE) in Honduras through the formation of alliances, participation in national policy processes and by strengthening value chains in the Renewable Energy sector. 

Today, marks a crucial moment for both HdH and the Platform. Manuel is excited to present an analysis on the Socio-economic and Environmental impacts of cooking, which aims to contribute to the establishment of a National Strategy for the Adoption of Efficient Stoves in Honduras. The study will increase the understanding of the current situation of cookstoves in Honduras specifically focussing on socio-economic and environmental factors, and the costs and benefits of adopting efficient cookstoves in the country.

Manuel is hoping that this research - a crucial part of his advocacy efforts, will inspire his government counterparts[1] (who have recently joined the Platform) to convince their institutions to take action on the issues presented in the study. 

Manuel is passionate about HdH’s work on clean cooking. Over the past 30 years, he has seen the country’s RE sector transform positively, especially with the recent establishment of the Inter-Institutional Platform. Waiting for his colleagues to arrive from across the country and from various institutions including the government and private sector, Manuel reflects on the time prior to the platform, when CSOs did not have access to decision makers to articulate the collective interests of the population.

Tackling the clean cooking challenge in Honduras

According to the World Health Organisation, 4.3 million people a year die prematurely from illness attributable to household air pollution caused by the inefficient use of solid fuels for cooking.

In Honduras, one million households cook with inefficient, traditional wood stoves. These are costly to the environment (due to the high greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from burning firewood) and to people’s well-being because exposure to cooking fumes bares devastating health risks.

 

Tackling this challenge is complex. It requires a systemic approach involving context-specific solutions (such as tailor-made cookstoves) and programmes that increase consumer demand, as well as the formulation of policies that support the clean cooking sector. It also entails a participatory process based on collaboration between government, the private sector, knowledge institutions, CSOs, and the voice of consumers.

Currently, Honduras has no exclusive regulatory framework or legislation to implement efficient cookstoves in order to reduce firewood consumption and GHG emissions. Until recently,  the clean cooking sector has lacked collaborative engagement amongst civil society, academia, government and the private sector involved in clean cooking initiatives. In fact, the sector is in a deadlock due to unsustainable market approaches, insufficient access to finance and lack of conducive policies; and progress has been hampered by the absence of a unified strategy amongst its actors.

Together we are strong

To address these challenges, on June 27, 2017 the Inter-Institutional Platform for the Development of the Improved Stoves Value Chain was formally established with leading support from the V4CP programme.

The Platform brings together representatives of the improved cookstoves value chain in order to escalate the development of this market and to improve related policies.

Together, seven[2] CSOs, academic institutions and international organisations signed a collaborative declaration, with the mandate to: promote the adoption of improved stoves and training in their use, as well as research and knowledge management of stoves; to exchange information in order to harmonise expertise and experiences; and to obtain and manage funds for joint programmes and initiatives.

Today, the Platform has expanded to a network of 16 members and several experts from government, civil society, academia, and private sector

Members sign a declaration establishing the Platform

Strengthening the platform’s capacity

The V4CP programme’s role in the Platform is threefold: providing training, organising regional exchanges and supporting evidence creation. Firstly the CSOs have been trained by the programme through a series of workshops and field visits to increase their skills on generating evidence, conducting advocacy and on institutional and leadership knowledge. With greater insight, CSOs like HdH have passed these skills and insights on to other platform members. Additionally, the V4CP programme also organised a series of regional exchanges to discuss models of improved cookstoves in the region, as well as innovation and best practices.

As a result, the Platform now provides a trusted space for organisations to share their research and expertise in clean cooking, and for members to participate in dialogues and discussions that increase collaboration and consensus, quality of information and technical capabilities.

By combining their knowledge, members can address challenges and gaps in the sector and support the development of a National Strategy to stimulate clean cooking in Honduras. To date, more than 20 documents related to RE and clean cooking have been collected, analysed and summarised. Four studies have been conducted through the V4CP programme focussing on: a Legal Framework Study for improved cookstoves; Gender in the Value Chain of Improved Stoves; Impact Analysis of Sales Tax Exemption for improved cookstoves; and more recently a Socio-economic and Environmental Assessment of Clean Cooking in Honduras. These crucial documents will contribute to the National Strategy for the Adoption of Efficient Stoves.

Supporting the National Strategy on the Adoption of Efficient Stoves

Since 2017, the platform members have been working to end the deadlock in the clean cooking sector in Honduras.

By continually informing the National Directorate of Climate Change (DNCC) on their activities, the government of Honduras became aware of the Platform’s work, and started to request information and technical advice from them, on strategic documents pertaining to improved stoves in Honduras. This led to the Platform contributing monumentally to the Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action (NAMA)[3] on clean cooking and the National Strategy for the Adoption of Efficient Stoves.

Firstly, in 2017, HdH and another V4CP partner organisation, Fundación Vida, led the process of designing a legal framework that outlined a possible National Strategy for the Adoption of Efficient Stoves, in close collaboration with other platform members. The framework identified gaps and challenges in the formulation of the strategy that needed to be addressed, and was presented to the government as a starting point for the formulation of the strategy.

Secondly, at request of the DNCC, the Platform analysed three strategic national government documents supporting the development of a NAMA on clean cooking. After review, it became clear that such a mitigation action plan was not yet possible for Honduras, due to a lack of quality data and information. Instead, and as a building block to support the NAMA, the Platform recommended that the government focus on the development of a National Strategy for the Adoption of Efficient Stoves.    

On 12 February 2018, the Platform’s efforts materialised. The NAMA focusing on developing a concrete National Strategy for the Adoption of Efficient Stoves was registered at the United Nations Climate Change Convention by the government of Honduras, demonstrating its political will and commitment to progress on climate change.

Currently, both the government and the platform are working on finalising the strategy collaboratively. The previously proposed legal framework presented by the Platform to the government in 2017 has become the blueprint which stakeholders are collectively contributing to and developing. The use of evidence to develop robust policies for the strategy is ongoing, and the National Strategy for the Adoption of Efficient Stoves is expected to be finalised in 2019. Once put into action, it will stimulate the market for improved cookstoves and enable many more families to access safer cooking technologies.

The Inter-institutional Platform for Improved Stoves discussing the legal framew

Realising the impact and change

Today, the Inter-institutional Platform for Improved Stoves represents a more unified clean cooking sector. Although the challenges to implement the SDGs amongst Honduran communities remains great, there is progress and stakeholders across sectors are working collaboratively with the government. Their voice, their technical experience and the value they give to using evidence is included in decisions related to the formation of policies and actions.

Looking back, there has been a substantive improvement in efforts to address the problem that millions of Honduran households face every day - exposure to pollution from harmful cooking practices. For the future, it is expected that the National Strategy will be completed in 2019, and will stimulate the market for improved cookstoves, and allow more families access to safer cooking technologies.

The Inter-Institutional Platform members feel this too…

As his colleagues start to arrive, he greets Mr. Julio Carcamo, Executive Director of Fundación Vida. Together, they talk about the day the platform was established. They recall how the V4CP programme fostered their collaboration and how, through the strength of the network, it made their advocacy efforts with decision makers possible. They are pleased with the functioning of the platform and with the high- level of consensus amongst all members.

As they reflect, Mr. Jairo Gómez from the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH University) joins the conversation. He is pleased with the progress that has been made on increasing awareness of improved stove technologies and notes that research has also been strengthened which, he feels, has positively influenced training in the field with communities.

Dr. Victoria Cortés from El Zamorano Pan-American Agricultural School arrives. She adds how complementary each of the members expertise is, and emphasises how the platform has helped El Zamorano achieve its institutional objectives in research, innovative technologies and in the development of policies.

Roberto Aparicio from the National Directorate of Climate Change (DNCC) unit nods and expands on Dr. Cortés’s views. He feels that the platform has become the technical arm for the government and for the DNCC. He also considers that, thanks to the platform, the development of national policy is more participatory now.

For Rene Benítez of Energising Development (EnDev) - GIZ Honduras, adds that the platform has developed its own synergy. He considers that the challenge lies in maintaining its dynamic trend, in keeping the different actors motivated and focused on the development of the national strategy.

As the platform members listen to each other, they smile and agree that their collaboration is strong and is an asset for future challenges. They have come a long way over the past two years. As they take their seats, they see that the first item on today’s agenda is Manuel’s presentation of the Socio-economic and Environmental study, and they get straight to business.

 

 

[1] The National Directorate of Climate Change (DNCC), Institute of Forest Conservation (ICF), National University of Forestry Sciences (UNACIFOR), the Secretary of Energy, Secretariat of Agriculture and Livestock (SAG), amongst others.

[2] Hermandad de Honduras (OSC); Fundación Vida (OSC); El Zamorano Pan-American Agricultural School (Academia); Central American Technological University - UNITEC (Academia); Honduras National Autonomous University - UNAH (Academia); Energising Development (EnDev) - GIZ Honduras (international); SNV (international)

[3] These plans are submitted to the United Nations Climate Change Convention and refer to country actions and commitments to reduce GHG emissions.

Thinley Dem

Behavioural Change Communications Advisor - WASH