Traditional cookstoves and open fires are the primary means of cooking for nearly 3 billion people. Over 4 million people die prematurely from illness associated with household air pollution.
Household air pollution and its induced effect on health is a major challenge in low-and middle-income countries, where most people rely on open fires or traditional stoves for cooking and energy purposes. Providing people with cleaner cooking solutions not only presents a clear opportunity to improve health outcomes, but also to reduce poverty, deliver climate benefits and protect the environment.
These 3 billion people are hence exposed to significant levels of household air pollution, which affects their health. The use of inefficient cookstoves not only leads to health burden, it is also intertwined with other development themes such as gender issue or climate change. The reliance on biomass for cooking causes women and children (especially girls) to collect firewood or solid fuel each week, exposing them to personal security risks such as injuries or violence in less secure environments and loss of valuable productive, educational or social time. Inefficient cookstoves also contribute to climate change as a result of carbon dioxide and black carbon emissions during the burning of solid fuels; and it increases pressure on local natural resources such as forests due to unsustainable wood harvesting (thereby reducing carbon uptake by forests).
Indoor air pollution can be addressed by clean cooking solutions; such as improved cookstoves or cleaner and more efficient fuels (biogas, liquid petroleum gas or solar power). Widespread adaptation of clean cooking solutions can help tackle the social- and environmental challenges posed by open fires or traditional stoves. Nowadays, many technologies exist but the people relying on inefficient cooking solutions are usually not able to afford such clean cooking technologies.
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