These questions were discussed by 120 participants of about 30 development organisations from Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands during a symposium organised by GTZ’s household energy programme HERA in Bonn, Germany. Among others, participants came from WHO, FAO, NGOs such as World Vision and CARE and consultancies and research institutions.

“The objectives of the symposium were to intensify the exchange of information and experiences between German-speaking development organisations and to develop potentials for future cooperation”, explained Marlis Kees from GTZ HERA the aim of the event. Discussions and experience exchange in question and answer sessions focussed on carbon trading for household energy, alternatives to firewood such as biogas or plant oil, subsidies and micro-credits as well as successful monitoring approaches for dissemination strategies of improved cook stoves.

Recommendations for further action were developed for research and implementation organisations and for policy advisors. For example: reliable data collection on woodfuel prices, the mainstreaming of cooking energy into other areas such as nutrition, health, and agricultural services on the local level, and more research on sustainable charcoal production and existing distribution networks - just to mention a very few of the identified needs for action. Furthermore, a strong demand for French publications, manuals and information was expressed.

The highlight of the symposium was a panel discussion themed “A question of survival: household energy”. Participants from the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Dutch Directorate General of Development Cooperation (DGIS), World Health Organisation (WHO), German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) and the Frankfurt Zoological Society discussed the relevance of household energy. All agreed on the need to put the topic on a higher political agenda and to stress its multifunctionality for reaching the MDG. Bernhard Zymla from GTZ stressed that the use of an improved stove instead of a three-stone fire saves more CO2 emissions than the change from a normal car to an energy saving car. Only joint action helps to provide people with modern energy for cooking, heating and lighting.

A percussion band and a cooking demonstration on rocket stoves completed the evening.

“These three days were fantastic and they certainly will bring more attention to household energy matters in German speaking countries”, Eva Rehfuess from WHO says.

For further information on the programme please visit

Contributed by Lisa Feldmann of GTZ