BY ELEEN KORIR

Clean cooking involves the use of fuels that does not cause indoor air pollution and whose emissions meet the WHO guidelines mainly at the point if use. Some of the options that are clean at point-of-use include electricity, gas, ethanol, solar, and the highest performing biomass stoves that are more fuel-efficient with less health and environmental effects. Access to clean cooking is one of the key milestones to achieving SDG7, which aims to ‘Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all especially in the rural and semi-urban areas in developing countries.

Globally and according to UNDP, despite progress towards universal access to clean and modern cooking systems, 40% of global households, or around 3 billion people, continue to prepare their daily meals with traditional stoves and fuels, posing risks to their health, the environment, and climate. Annually there are 4.3 million deaths (7.7% of total global mortality) from exposure to household air pollution. 

In Kenya,) over 90% of Kenyans still rely on the traditional cooking methods like firewood, charcoal and/or kerosene for some or all of their cooking needs and this has led to high demand for wood which exceeds the supply (Rob Bailis et al, 2020. With this, there is increased deforestation which is impacting on climate change. This can be attributed to ease of access and affordability of these fuels. Additionally, this is also contributed by  the high and increasing LPG prices as well high electricity cost coupled with limited access to the electricity especially in the rural areas where 69.7% (World Bank) of the population having access to the electricity especially in the rural areas. 

The use of traditional cooking methods is a contribution to the climate change in the content due to air pollution. Additionally, these methods cause indoor air pollution which may lead to respiratory tract infections and this is disproportionately affecting women. The effects are in the following ways:

  1. They spend their valuable time searching and collecting firewood from the already scarce resource
  2. The use of this traditional cooking methods causes a lot of indoor air pollution which may cause respiratory tract ailments
  3. Due to the time used in collecting firewood, the loose out on pursuing other economic activities that can empower them financially as well as other opportunities to improve their families and community at large.

What can be done to ensure access to clean cooking?

  1. Subsidized clean cooking stoves in the market.
  2. Awareness creation on the dangers associated with polluting fuels being used to the health of the users as well as the damage being made on the environment due to the cutting of trees hence contribution to the climate change.
  3. Making the LPG accessible and affordable to all.
  4. Increasing access to electricity and making it affordable to all especially in the rural areas.
  5. Creating awareness on biogas generation to be used for cooking in homes especially for those involved in cattle farming.
  6. Recycling of waste to generate briquettes to be used instead of charcoal, hence reduce deforestation, climate change.
  7. Innovation around use of solar energy for cooking especially in regions with sunlight most of the year.

In conclusion, replacing traditional cooking methods with cleaner fuels and more energy-efficient cooking solutions, provision of subsidies for the clean cooking methods and increasing access and affordability of electricity will help reduce household air pollution, provide cost savings and reduce the time and resources needed to procure fuel as well as given women opportunities to carry out activities that will help them and their families economically. In this regard embracing clean cooking initiatives will help in achieving some SGDs’ milestones including: SDG 1 (No poverty), SDG 2 (Zero Hunger), SDG 3(Good Health and Well-being), SDG 4 (Quality Education) SDG 5 (Gender Equality), SDG 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy), SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), SDG 13 (Climate Action) and SDG 15 (Life on Land)  (Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves).