Real Housewives

The Real Housewives

The household and the fireplace, located at the same address, are closely linked, bringing physical and emotional warmth to people. Everyone has some memories related to the moment when people gather together around the fire and share stories, music, and a meal.

However, the very task of lightening a fire is a challenge in regions affected by fuel poverty, particularly in Africa and Southeast Asia. The fight against energy poverty can improve the lives of vulnerable populations living in precarious conditions in several places around the world.

Think about cooking, for instance. Igniting the fire requires availability of fuel. If cash is available and the selling point not too distant and easily accessible, you can buy it. However, in isolated regions of the world, where populations are struggling to make a living, more often you will find that people go and collect firewood on their own.

In a remote village called Shusong, in the Yunnan province of China, women set on their daily quest for fuel. One woman can gather 75kg of wood twice daily. Every time, they need 3 hours to go and come back (Chuntao, 2002).

It’s generally women and children who are in charge to gather firewood for the family needs. They need from two to six hours to accomplish this task, which requires walking up to eight kilometers per day and carrying heavy burdens of 10kg on average [1].

In few regions of the world, firewood collection is a manly task [2]. Depending on the region, firewood collection takes more or less time. However, time spent on collecting firewood implies less time available to take care of the family members and perform household chores, to work the fields, to procure food and water, let alone carry out income-generating activities and study. Without the modern comforts of 24/7 available energy sources, one day is barely enough to deal with everything!

Isn’t it quite different from the housewives we used to watch on TV?

For more information about clean cookstoves, please follow the link

1.  DFID/ENERGIA, Energy as a key variable in eradicating extreme poverty and hunger: A gender and energy perspective on empirical evidence on MDG #1, Discussion Paper, project on Gender as a Key Variable in Energy Interventions, December 2005. Source:

2.  UN, The World's Women 2010: Trends and Statistics, 2010. Source: