Understand and address energy poverty and household air pollution around the globe. Inside small homes and huts throughout the developing world, billions of people burn fires in rudimentary stoves to prepare their meals and heat their homes.The photographs above by Mark Katzman from Fires, Fuel, and the Fate of 3 Billion by Gautam N. Yadama provide a brief glimpse into the developing world’s use of crude cookstoves— and their role in poverty, energy, environment, and gender inequality.

Fig. 1: She endures the weight of a cultural expectation, compounded by household poverty, to shoulder a globally consequential burden: providing daily fuel for her household.  They pour out of jungles carrying firewood to heat their homes, to cook hot meals for their families.

Fig. 2: Tradition-bound, communities on the river islands of Brahmaputra, Assam, keep the wood burning.  Women get household fuel from three significant sources: driftwood from the river, Kalmu –dried stalks of a riverbank weed, or wood from Casuarina trees from outlying islands. 

Fig. 3: Smoke billows from Missing tribal households, fires burning from morning until night, providing food and comfort. Missing households without these fires are not traditional.

Fig. 4: Making charcoal to meet the energy demands of a distant urban household takes its toll on the health of women and children.  Children in the midst of rising smoke from large piles of burning invasive mesquite wood that mothers tend to all day. 

Fig. 5: Providing access to clean, cost-effective energy systems for the poor is clearly a complex undertaking.  Risk laden livelihoods dependent on rain-fed agriculture in drought prone regions complicate the dissemination and implementation of such innovations.

Fig. 6: Unexpectedly, in midst of threadbare living, people adopt and invest in new technologies that they consider necessary.  Living without electricity, but cannot do without a cell phone.  Enter small general stores that supply solar panels for charging. 

Image credit: All photographs by Mark Katzman. All rights reserved.