As the Alliance celebrates its one-year anniversary, Dow Corning's donation – the largest contribution of unrestricted funds pledged to date – will enable the Alliance to significantly ramp up its global efforts to prevent millions of deaths per year – and millions more sicknesses and injuries – from exposure to toxic smoke from cooking and heating with traditional cookstoves or open fires.
Going beyond its financial commitment, Dow Corning is also dedicating technical and human resources to make a material difference in solving one of the world's leading environmental, health and social problems. Providing global leadership and grassroots support, Dow Corning will embed employees into this transformational effort and will work with the Alliance to explore how to improve the quality of stoves, as well as how to lower the cost of production to make the stoves more affordable to families.
"This commitment will allow us to explore how to use our technology, business, and innovation expertise to provide a valuable contribution to improve and even save lives of those exposed to smoke from traditional cookstoves, especially women and children who spend hours each week collecting fuel, often in dangerous circumstances," said Bob Hansen, president and CEO of Dow Corning.
Exposure to smoke from traditional cookstoves and open fires – the primary means of cooking and heating for nearly three billion people worldwide each day – causes two million premature deaths annually, with women and young children the most affected. The World Health Organization currently estimates that harmful cookstove smoke is the fifth biggest health risk in developing countries, and contributes to a range of chronic illnesses such as early childhood pneumonia, emphysema, cataracts, lung cancer, bronchitis, cardiovascular disease and low birth weight, as well as serious injuries such as blindness and burns. Environmental impacts are equally dramatic: more than 20 percent of black carbon in the atmosphere is due to traditional cooking techniques.
More efficient solutions also reduce fuel consumption and the time that people – usually women and girls – spend collecting fuel, allowing more time for income generation, educational opportunities, and other activities.
"Dow Corning's generous contribution to the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves demonstrates their strong commitment to saving and empowering lives in this sector, and their leadership in sustainable development," said Radha Muthiah, Executive Director of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. "We are also excited to tap Dow Corning's research, design and testing expertise, as they will be invaluable in helping the Alliance bring the deployment and use of clean cookstoves to scale."
Dow Corning became involved in improving cookstoves in 2010 when it launched its Citizen Service Corps, which is designed to give the company's employees the opportunity to discover, serve and innovate by participating in specially designed service projects in developing countries.
The initial program gave 10 employees from Dow Corning locations across the globe an opportunity to volunteer for a month in Bangalore, India. The employees worked with three non-governmental agencies, two of which had a direct link to clean cookstoves: one to develop quality control systems and improve the supply chain for manufactured energy-efficient cookstoves, the other to research and analyze the needs and demands of rural customers when buying energy-efficient and environmentally friendly cookstoves to develop a more effective marketing and sales plan.
"Dow Corning gained a fresh perspective and first-hand experiences through the work of our colleagues, including insights on how to fuel further innovation, and an understanding of how we can grow while addressing our social and environmental commitments," Hansen said.
About Dow Corning
Dow Corning (dowcorning.com) provides performance-enhancing solutions to serve the diverse needs of more than 25,000 customers worldwide. A global leader in silicones, silicon-based technology and innovation, Dow Corning offers more than 7,000 products and services via the company's Dow Corning® and XIAMETER® brands. Dow Corning is equally owned by The Dow Chemical Company and Corning, Incorporated. More than half of Dow Corning's annual sales are outside the United States. Dow Corning's global operations adhere to the American Chemistry Council's Responsible Care® initiative, a stringent set of standards designed to advance the safe and secure management of chemical products and processes.
About the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves
The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves is a United Nations Foundation-led public-private partnership to save lives, improve livelihoods, empower women and combat climate change by creating a thriving global market for clean and efficient household cooking solutions. The Alliance's '100 by 20' goal calls for 100 million households to adopt clean and efficient stoves and fuels by 2020. The Alliance is working with its public, private and non-profit partners to help overcome the market barriers that currently impede the production, deployment and use of clean cookstoves in developing countries. Visit www.cleancookstoves.org for more information.