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Last Updated: Mon, 11.02.13 8:54

ŠKODA, ICIMOD join hands for improved air quality in Nepal

The ŠKODA Division of MAW Enterprises Private Limited (MAW) and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) have entered into a unique partnership to improve air quality in Nepal and raise awareness of the source of black carbon and its negative health and environmental impacts.

As a part of the one-year partnership – which will complement ongoing ICIMOD work related to black carbon and air pollution – 300 smoke-free cookstoves will be purchased and distributed to households in specific villages in Makwanpur District, where the Patan Academy of Health Sciences is already conducting a health impact study.

Also involved in the project is the Alternative Energy Promotion Center, an initiative of the Government of Nepal. The partners will compare the health and air quality impacts of conventional and improved cookstoves, while gathering experiences about effective cookstove distribution strategies, ICIMOD said.

This study will contribute to the Atmosphere Initiative at ICIMOD, which began in 2012 with support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) to address atmospheric issues in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region, with particular attention to improving scientific knowledge and providing knowledge support for the formulation of policy that takes the transboundary nature of atmospheric issues into account. The initiative directs activities and research towards assessing problems and finding solutions for reducing black carbon and other air pollutants that can have immediate benefits for the people of the region.

According to ICIMOD, black carbon is the dark soot emitted into the atmosphere by incomplete combustion in traditional cooking stoves, brick kilns, diesel generators, diesel vehicles, and industries. It is bad for respiratory health and poses a particular danger to women cooking with traditional stoves. Black carbon also affects climate, warming the polluted upper layers of air while cooling low lying areas. Black carbon contributes to the melting of Himalayan glaciers and to changes in monsoon circulation, and to decreasing visibility.

“MAW has been active in many corporate social responsibility (CSR) campaigns, for example promoting sport activities and youth development and providing vocational training to unemployed youth to encourage self reliance”, says Vishnu Kumar Agrawal, Managing Director of MAW. “We believe in being a part of the solution to reduce negative impacts on the environment, as shown by our environmental management certification according to the worldwide ISO 14001:2004 standard. The new project with ICIMOD will broaden MAW’s horizon of CSR activities in the environmental field,” he added. Agrawal pointed out that responsibility for the environment is also part of the ŠKODA company strategy. “ŠKODA manufactures cars with recycled materials to reduce pressure on natural resources, and its cars meet the most stringent emission standards in the world”.

ICIMOD, a regional intergovernmental learning and knowledge sharing centre serving eight member countries in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region, recognizes the private sector as an important development partner for achieving impact. “ICIMOD believes that as users of mountain resources, the private sector has a critical role in ensuring the long-term green economic growth of the region as well as the protection of its invaluable resources and biodiversity”, said Dr David Molden, the centre’s Director General. “The private sector can help increase the scope for responsible economic participation of mountain communities in innovative livelihood opportunities and environmental stewardship.” Nepalnews.com