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Secretary Clinton Gets Fired Up Over Safer Cooking

Secretary Clinton greets a South Indian woman working at a cookstove. (Paul Cohn/State Dept.)

Secretary Clinton greets a South Indian woman working at a cookstove.


U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took time during her busy day in Chennai to underscore the importance of cleaner and healthier cooking methods for the safety and empowerment of Indian women and children. 

Dr. Kalpana Balakrishnan, an international expert in environmental health, and key cookstove manufacturers Prakti, EnviroFit, Clean Energy and Teri, showed Clinton how research and development have led to newer cookstoves that lower hazardous emissions and can prevent deaths.

South Indian women demonstrated a variety of cookstoves -- from traditional fire to newer more efficient models that burn hotter and use less fuel. 

Traditional wood-and coal-burning stoves are a leading cause of death for women and children in India, killing nearly 500,000 people a year.

Dr. Kalpana said cleaner cookstoves reduce harmful air pollution exposure by 50 percent.

The ground-breaking work on cookstoves in South India can serve as a model locally and globally -- and is in keeping with Clinton’s pledge last year to provide $50 million to bring clean cooking stoves to developing countries.

"The women here today represent women all over the world who are by and large the biggest users and victims of cookstoves," Clinton said. "We will work with people around the world to help develop clean cookstoves, help to manufacture them so they are affordable for you to buy them."

Clinton also used the visit to announce that two major Indian trade federations, FICCI and CII, had pledged their support for the cookstove initiative.

Dr. Kalpana, who is a professor and heads the department of environmental engineering at Sri Ramachandra Medical College and Research Institute in Chennai, stressed to Clinton that the effort needs continued research and partnerships for success. She said the effort requires the same full-scale attention as public health programs that address vaccinations and nutrition.