Ci-Dev Community Q&A: Using Ethanol Stoves to Reduce Deforestation in Madagascar

23 January 2020

Ci-Dev Community Q&A: Using Ethanol Stoves to Reduce Deforestation in Madagascar

This is part of a series of short interviews with energy access experts and professionals working on Ci-Dev programs.  

Havard Norstebo is an author and the General Manager for Green Development, an organization that connects project implementers with local partners to generate carbon credits for emissions reducing development projects. Ci-Dev is working with Green Development in Madagascar to promote ethanol as a clean cooking fuel. We chatted with Havard to learn more about how the promotion of these ethanol stoves is helping to combat deforestation in Madagascar.    


Q:           How does Ci-Dev’s Madagascar Ethanol Clean Cooking Climate Finance Project contribute to the overall development mission for Madagascar?

A:            The main goal of the project is to reduce deforestation. Deforestation is a critical issue for Madagascar. The forests are in danger of being wiped out, which would spur local climate change and take away a substantial economic resource for the Malagasy people. Some deforestation is driven by the need for charcoal for cooking. The ethanol stove we are promoting provides an alternative, as the ethanol is generated from sugar cane and other crops grown on degraded and disused land. For every ethanol stove in use for 6-7 years, one hectare of forest is saved!

Q:           That is an excellent result. Have you found that people are receptive to adopting this new type of stove and cooking fuel?

A:            The reception to the stove has been tremendous. People were easy to convince. There are lots of things about this stove that make it attractive—first, it is being sold at a price that is comparable to charcoal; second, it looks nice and modern, which makes it attractive for people to have in their homes; third, the benefits are quickly noticeable. Cooking with charcoal creates a lot of smoke and takes a lot of time. The ethanol stove, in contrast, takes little time to cook and creates no smoke.

Q:           Do you think there is a technology, innovation, or change that will have a meaningful impact on the clean cooking sector?

A:            I think the recent global attention on clean cooking by donors has had and will continue to have the greatest impact on this sector. This increased attention is offering financing solutions that were not available in the past and it is changing the clean cooking game.

Take Ci-Dev as an example. Ci-Dev will purchase the emissions reductions from the distribution of these stoves, helping to subsidize the cost of the stoves so they can be sold at an affordable price. The financing will also support training for local partners in setting up their own ethanol micro-distilleries to produce and sell the fuel. This is all working together to establish a functioning market for a sustainably produced clean cooking fuel and efficient cookstoves.

Q:           So Ci-Dev’s results-based finance is uniquely positioned to further the development goals in Madagascar?

A:            Yes! I think so. Ultimately, any cooking solution that deters the use of charcoal is a good solution for combating deforestation. No one stove is revolutionary. Different solutions work in different places, based on culture, cooking technique, price, etc. The Malagasy people understand some of the benefits this stove offers and are happy to cook with it and to adopt ethanol as a cooking fuel. This ultimately reduces the demand for wood to produce charcoal.

Q:           If you had to offer one piece of sage advice to someone starting off in this industry, what would it be?

A:            Have patience. It doesn’t matter how good the solutions are or how hard you work. It will always be two steps forward, one step backward. And you can’t give up every time you have to take a step backward.