Redeveloping the village in Anekal exposed many more issues than initially viewed. The daily lives and schedules of the members of the homes were observed. The women and the older girls in the house do all the cooking. The main food is ragi mudde and rice which is prepared for the two meals that they eat in a day. The consumption of vegetables is minimal and they rely on their own cows for milk. On special occasions, they prepare non-vegetarian dishes.
On analysis of their kitchens and cooking processes, one problem stood out- the cooking chulhas. Cooking practices varied between the houses- some cooked inside their houses, while others in make-shift sheds outside. Some used firewood, and others used kerosene burners.
The kitchens or surrounding rooms were continually filled with smoke. While cooking, thick smoke billowed out from the chulhas, and lingered even after the cooking was done. Thick soot coated the walls creating dark and dismal interiors. Often, the health problems arose because of the ash and smoke formed while cooking.
A solution was definitely of utmost importance; one that would reduce smoke emission, with efficient energy conversion and minimal fuel requirement. Astra stoves, designed by IISc seemed to solve all the issues. Made out of either bricks or mud, it was an efficient, cost-effective, sustainable solution.
A demonstration was organized to teach the people. The benefits were explained and the functionings of the chulha were taught to the people. Training for the construction process was given while a live model was built. This training would help the people build the chulhas in the rest of the houses.
Although initially, the people were a little skeptical, they soon saw the benefits first hand when their homes became smoke-free, soot-free, their health improved and less fuel consumption brought a higher heat yield.
Life in Timmaiyanadoddi was changing for the better. From house construction to interventions in the kitchen, people were being positively impacted.