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Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response

Non-food items standard 4: Stoves, fuel and lighting

The disaster-affected population has access to a safe, fuel-efficient stove and an accessible supply of fuel or domestic energy, or to communal cooking facilities. Each household also has access to appropriate means of providing sustainable artificial lighting to ensure personal safety.

Key actions (to be read in conjunction with the guidance notes)

Key indicators (to be read in conjunction with the guidance notes)

Guidance notes

  1. Stoves: The specification of stoves is informed by existing local practices. Energy-efficient cooking practices should be promoted, including the use of fuel-efficient stoves, firewood preparation, fire management, food preparation, shared cooking, etc. In communal accommodation, common or centralised cooking facilities are preferable to the provision of individual household stoves, to minimise fire risks and indoor smoke pollution (see Food security - food transfers standard 2).

  2. Ventilation: Flues should be fitted to stoves in enclosed areas to vent exhaust gases or smoke to the exterior in a safe manner. Weather-protected openings should be used to ensure adequate ventilation and to minimise the risk of respiratory problems.

  3. Fire safety: Safe separation should be ensured between the stove and the elements of the shelter. Internal stoves should be placed on a non-flammable base with a non-flammable sleeve around the flue where it passes through the structure of the shelter to the exterior. Stoves should be located away from entrances and placed to enable safe access during use.

  4. Sustainable sources of fuel: Sources of fuel should be managed, particularly where host or neighbouring communities also rely upon them. Resources should be replenished to ensure sustainability of supply, e.g. establishing firewood tree plantations to reduce or eliminate firewood extraction from existing forests. The use of non-traditional fuel sources should be supported, for example briquettes produced from sawdust and other organic matter, where this is acceptable to the affected populations.

  5. Collecting and storing fuel: The disaster-affected population, in particular women and girls, should be consulted about the location and means of collecting fuel for cooking and heating to address issues of personal safety. The demands of collecting fuel on particularly vulnerable people should be addressed, such as female-headed households, those caring for chronically ill individuals or individuals with mobility or access difficulties. The use of less labour-intensive fuels should be promoted, including fuel-efficient stoves and accessible fuel sources. Fuel should be stored at a safe distance from the stove itself, and any liquid fuel such as kerosene should be kept out of the reach of children and infants.

  6. Artificial lighting: Lanterns or candles can provide familiar and readily sourced lighting, although the fire risk of using such items should be assesed. Provide other types of artificial lighting to contribute to personal safety in and around settlements where general illumination is not available. The use of energy-efficient artificial lighting should be considered, such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs), and the provision of solar panels to generate localised electrical energy.