Among the most impactful social, economic and environmental initiatives in developing countries.
Around a third of people worldwide still cook on open fire. That means most people in developing countries. Such habit is both lethal due to toxic carbon monoxide emissions and a burning hazard. It is also environmentally harmful due to the substantial amounts of firewood that need to be collected, leading to more CO2 being released in the atmosphere.
In Africa alone, 900 million people – that’s 75% of the continent’s population – use open-fire cooking, with women putting their lives in the front line to cook for their family.
More than 600,000 people die each year because of this cooking habit. To compare, 900,000 die each year from malaria, tuberculosis or HIV combined. This toll will keep increasing unless something tangible is done.
Clean cooking, consisting in using appliances of various kinds that result in a higher combustion efficiency, can significantly and immediately curb this terrible trend.
Clean cooking has many other positive impacts, such as freeing up time for education and income generation activities, and promoting gender equality.
While some technologies are fully sustainable (e.g. running on electricity or bio-fuel) and address more developed communities in Sub-Saharan Africa, improved cookstoves still work using firewood or charcoal, with the potential to significantly uplift the livelihoods of rural communities. Firewood or charcoal cookstove are complementary to more sophisticated ones, and simply address different communities within Sub-Saharan Africa.
Improved cookstoves still run on firewood, but require a lot less biomass to produce the same amount of meals. That way, women and their daughters don’t need to cut down as many trees, therefore instantly reducing overall deforestation.
By using high-efficiency stoves, women and their children are no longer exposed to excessive amounts of carbon monoxide emissions, which now fall within WHO range, nor fear domestic accidents due to fire hazard. Clean cooking results in less acute respiratory illnesses, less cataracts, less heart conditions, and less cancers.
With less time needed to collect firewood and less time spent being rundown with illnesses, women and children can spend more of their time learning and working. Less deforestation, less diseases and deaths, more homework, that’s a no brainer.
Culturally, it takes time to switch to electricity and gas cooking. Improved cookstoves are not altering the way women cook, and that’s also why they traditionally come with significant adoption rates.
Progress towards clean cooking has been significant in Asia, but still remains marginal in Sub-Saharan Africa. While many international institutions such as the United Nations and The African Development Bank are mobilizing resources to improve access to clean cooking through various instruments and initiatives, approximately $1 Billion of investments a year is still needed to reach universal access to clean cooking by 2030.
Just under 10 million SSA households have basic clean cookstoves, while another 5-7 million households use an intermediate alternative, such as improved cookstoves.
Only Climate Finance, consisting in the generation of carbon credits, can bridge this gap and offer financing at scale. This requires a transparent and efficient carbon market.
Join us on our Journey to Save Over 50 Million Tons of CO2 emissions Each Year, and Have a Strong Social Impact in Sub-Saharan Africa.