Benefits of Clean Cooking

Benefits of Clean Cooking Solutions

Clean cooking solutions are those clean cookstove technologies, fuels, equipment, and practices that address the health and environmental impacts associated with traditional cookstoves. We are keen in making sure that the technology is affordable, socially acceptable, easy to use, widely available, durable, and most of all, that the technology is desired.

Cookstoves and health

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that exposure to smoke from the simple act of cooking is the fifth worst risk factor for disease in developing countries, and causes almost two million premature deaths per year – exceeding deaths attributable to malaria or tuberculosis. In addition, tens of millions more fall sick with illnesses that could readily be prevented with increased adoption of clean and efficient cooking solutions.

Women in developing countries are also at risk of head and spinal injuries, pregnancy complications, and maternal mortality from the strenuous task of carrying heavy loads of firewood or other fuels. Frequent exposure to cookstove smoke can also cause disabling health impacts like cataracts, which affect women more than men, and is the leading cause of blindness in developing countries.

Exposure to smoke is greatest among women and young children, who spend the most time near open fires or traditional cookstoves tending to the family meal, or schoolchildren who may study by the light of an open flame. Both inhale unhealthy levels of emissions. Rudimentary wood-fired cookstoves and open fires emit fine particles, carbon monoxide, and other pollutants at levels up to 100 times higher than the recommended limits set by WHO .

Health effects are especially deadly for children under the age of five. A randomized-control study in Guatemala led by the University of California, Berkeley, found that halving exposure to indoor air pollution with a chimney stove brought about a reduction in severe pneumonia, and that larger reductions in exposure had more pronounced effects. A systematic review of all available studies on the link between solid fuel use and child pneumonia has found an almost doubling of risk for those exposed.

Burns from open fires and unsafe cookstoves are another insidious risk faced by poor households dependent on kerosene, open fires, and unstable metal or clay cookstoves, contributing to a substantial percentage of the estimated 300,000 burn deaths that occur annually. Because burns require prompt and sophisticated medical intervention often lacking in remote areas of the world, such injuries often result in debilitating scarring and loss of movement in their victims.

Cookstoves and women empowerment

While women are disproportionately impacted by the negative impacts of cooking on open fires and traditional cookstoves, they play a crucial role in the adoption and use of clean cooking solutions because of their responsibilities as cooks and managers of their households.

Women can play a unique role within the cookstove and fuel value chains, as they often excel in entrepreneurial activities and can leverage their existing networks for distribution, marketing, and sales, and Multilink will continue placing special emphasis on their role. Multilink will therefore contribute to the objectives of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves which has included the empowerment of women as an explicit goal in its mission statement. Further, as a partner of the Alliance’s we recognize that we cannot design clean cookstove and fuels solutions without the full participation and input of women.

Multilink, while carrying out its business will work closely with local stakeholders to identify the key gender and empowerment activities that are required to scale up the clean cookstove and fuel markets in Kenya, and ensure that women are economically empowered through these emerging markets.