Household smoke may be the world’s deadliest environmental hazard.
Global campaigns have failed to change how poor people heat their food
The cooking problem is Africa is worsening….
Governments, aid agencies and charities have for decades tried to coax people towards cleaner fuels like liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and electricity. Those who must burn wood and dung are prodded to do so in more efficient stoves.
Progress has been astoundingly slow. Since 2000 the number of people living in extreme poverty has plunged from 1.7bn to about 600m. Neonatal deaths have fallen by 49%. Yet the number of people heating their food with dirty fuels has stuck at 2.5bn-2.8bn, according to the IEA, largely because of growth in Africa (see chart).
The Global Alliance for Clean Cooking, which uses a slightly different measure, estimated in 2015 that the number might even have risen. As for those improved cookstoves, researchers who hand them out in a village almost invariably find, when they return several years later, that people have gone back to cooking over handmade mud stoves or large stones.
The reason for this is that the primary focus on the stove, rather than the fuel. Improved cookstoves might use less fuel and produce less smoke, but the stoves themselves do not change the fuel value chain in the community.
Without a community driven approach for making sustainable fuel from locally available resources, by converting low level waste into high value fuel, the poverty cycle will continue!
Read the full article in the Economist to see how subsidies are now being proposed for the poor. Another way to extend the poverty cycle. Subsidies make large LPG producers profitable with tax dollars and perpetuate the fossil fuel culture.