Outside Business Journal

Industry High Five: 50,000 lives improved over 11 years

George Basch's Himalayan Stove Project is shutting down. Over the last decade, the initiative delivered thousands of safe and environmentally friendly cooking stoves to families in Nepal.


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The achievement

A bittersweet message came across our news desk this week: The 11-year-old organization Himalayan Stove Project, founded by industry long-timer George Basch, is officially shutting down due to logistical and financial challenges of the pandemic.

“We have, together, over the last decade, made a multi-generational transformation in the lives and health of over 50,000 people in Nepal,” Basch wrote in his goodbye message to supporters of the project. “We had told you previously that because of the Covid pandemic, we didn’t believe it was possible to continue our program. We’ve concluded, sadly, that we were correct, so we’ve pivoted our attention to another urgent problem facing our planet.”

Basch announced that new project, Earth Giving Day, in the same note, but for now we’d like to look back at the Himalayan Stove Project and acknowledge some of the things it was able to achieve in its decade-long run.

First, the basics: The project’s core mission was to find and replace primitive cooking stoves in rural communities, which harm the environment and cause four million premature deaths per year through the release of soot and other pollutants. The group focused its efforts on communities in Nepal, where volunteers helped deliver 6,000+ stoves to rural families, improving the lives of an estimated 50,000 people and significantly cutting air pollution in the areas that benefitted from the project’s efforts.

What makes it special

When we interviewed Basch about the project back in 2016, he communicated the kind of quiet patience and steady devotion that characterized the project from the beginning.

“It’s one stove at a time, and we’ve already installed 3,000,” he said then. “The need in Nepal is for one million stoves. Every bit helps.”

That goal was essentially the project’s north star for 11 years: one million stoves. As the organization’s website reads, “We are asked, frequently, whether we’ll expand beyond Nepal. The estimated need in Nepal is for 1 million stoves. We’re very proud that [we have] delivered over 6,000 stoves, so we only have 994,000 to go.”

The takeaway

We’re sad to see this effort discontinue, but we’d like to thank everyone who worked on the Himalayan Stove Project over the years for your commitment to these eternally worthy causes: protecting the environment and improving human health in all corners of the world.

We’re also excited to learn more about Earth Giving Day, when the details come out. But for now: George and everyone at the Himalayan Stove Project, our hats are off to you.

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