Project Everest


[Problem] Fuel Fiji July 2019


Lean Phase: Problem 

This post distinguishes some of the key problems and issues that Fuel Sustainability has identified surrounding cooking methods in both rural and urban Fijian residents. The Fuel Sustainability team aims to alleviate these issues by addressing the following UN Sustainable Development Goals:

Goal 3: Good health and wellbeing

Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its actions.


Many indigenous Fijians experience frustration and health problems as a result of the inefficient and frequent use of traditional firewood cooking methods.


The Buka Stove aims to achieve these goals by resolving the following issues listed below:


Smoke Emissions

The emissions released during the burning of firewood have been linked to causing many diseases. Inefficient burning contributes to carbon emissions and releases excessive quantities of smoke containing particulate matter (carbon soot) and carbon monoxide, a toxic gas that is colourless, odourless, and tasteless. These are polluting air both indoors and outdoors. Poor ventilation results in gritty, eye-watering smoke, that sticks in the throat and provokes deep, scratchy coughs.


It is estimated that 4 million people worldwide die prematurely from illness associated with household air pollution. A majority of these deaths occur among women and children due to their prolonged exposure to these harmful particles that get trapped inside the home which leads to respiratory issues including;  respiratory infections, eye damage, pneumonia, asthma, heart/lung disease and lung cancer. Whilst these conditions have been identified as long term consequences of using firewood, they have not been recognised by Fijians as pressing issues. However, many Fijians who use open fire cooking methods have identified basic issues such as itchy eyes and coughs. 


All of these health consequences are exacerbated by the fact that access to good healthcare is severely limited, so having an alternate cooking method would lessen the burden of living with these various conditions.


Environmental Degradation

The environmental ramifications of open fire cooking are particularly felt in developing countries. This is largely a result of open fire cooking being a major source of black carbon (a sunlight absorbing pollutant), due to incomplete combustion. As a consequence of this, the effects of climate change are accelerated. This affects individuals all over the world but especially smaller islands, thus they would benefit greatly from an alternate cooking method. However, whilst environmental degradation is a primary problem that PEV is attempting to address, it does not appear to be a pressing issue for Fijian locals. 


Firewood Inefficiency

Open fires consume great amounts of wood, and during the wet season when access to dry material is limited, this poses a great challenge. This issue is particularly felt by rural villagers or underprivileged members of society who do not have access to gas or kerosene as alternatives to cook with. This issue is reasonably well spread, affecting the 44.1% of the Fijian population living in rural villages across Fiji (Fijian Bureau of Statistics, 2017).


Ongoing Cost of Kerosene

During the wet season, kerosene is used to fuel fires consisting of wet firewood. This is an expensive ongoing cost which financially burdens many of these women and their families. The average cost of a litre of kerosene is $1.54 FJD according to villagers living in Nayawa, which is over half the average hourly wage in Fiji (Koya 2018). From this, it is evident that the cost of kerosene is especially demanding for impoverished and disadvantaged families and individuals, where 43% of the Fijian population in rural areas were considered to be living in poverty in 2009 (Fijian Bureau of Statistics, 2009).


Lack of Portability

Currently, many farmers in Fiji make temporary dirt stoves in the ground to cook meals when out in the field. These dirt stoves not only take time and energy to make but are generally ineffective during rainfall. Rectifying this issue would be beneficial for both farmers and employers. With 45% of the Fijian workforce involved in the agricultural sector, this is deemed to be a widespread issue. (CIA World Factbook 2018).

edited on 18th July 2019, 02:07 by Grace Aplin

Haziq Ahmed Dec 19, 2018

Status label added: Problem

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