In Africa, traditional open fire stoves fueled by firewood come in handy for domestic cooking and heating.
This however does not come with its disadvantages.
According to experts, the use of firewood and kerosene as cooking fuel is linked with increase in risk of stillbirth, low birth weight and impaired cognitive development.
Speaking on the topic “Innovative approaches to Clean Cooking in Africa” at the third edition of the Energy Leader’s Dialogue webinar series organized by The Energy Intelligence, a Lagos based energy media consultancy, experts in the African clean cooking industry said that there is potential gain in health if women are able to switch to a better fuel and stove.
Speaking, Arinola Ganiu, a professor of Immunology at the University College Hospital, UCH Ibadan said that exposure to biomass smoke makes women experience more adverse pregnancy outcomes.
“In our studies, we found out that exposure to biomass smoke adversely affects health. We also found out that cooking with wood was associated with increased odds of asthma symptoms.
We also found out that pregnant women who cook with kerosene experienced more adverse pregnancy outcomes with their infants weighing less compared to mothers using LNG for cooking.
The results of the study showed the need to improve nutrition during pregnancy and to strengthen and formulate policies to replace kerosene as cooking and household fuel with much cleaner fuels,” he said.
On her part, Happy Amos, Founder, Roshan Renewables Energy said a major barrier to the adoption of clean cook stove is affordability.
In her words,” A lot of people are not aware of the benefits of clean cooking. We need to do a lot of consumer education on Clean Cooking. People do not have an insight on how the pollution affects their lives.
Despite our stoves being one of the most affordable in the market, we are still having complaints of affordability. Affordability is one of the reasons adoption is low, “she stated.
According to her, an awareness of the dangers of Household Air Pollution needs to be made known to the women for a successful transition to clean cooking energy.
“When I go to the field, I meet women whose eyes are tearing due to exposure to smoke.
You see them struggling to get fuel to cook for their families. The issue needs more attention than what is currently being given to it,” she added.
Habiba Ali, Founder, Sosai Renewable Energies said the market opportunities of the sector are too vast to be ignored.
“We need to put clean cooking as a socio-economic priority and backed by investments and multisector partnership.
There’s no way we will talk about SDG7 without talking about clean cooking. The biggest part of energy use in any household is cooking.
There is market opportunities for this in billions of dollars.
Through energy, we can achieve all SDGs such as clean health, and poverty.
Why are we not pushing the private sector to do the right projects to ensure that people cook clean?”, she queried.
Anita Okuribido, President, Women in Sustainable Power Africa in her address said government needs to make sure there is establishment of community-based organizations.
“There needs to be capacity building, skill acquisition to help them increase their earnings.
Someone that is not earning N500 a day, how do you expect such to afford cook stove or buy feedstock for the cookstove?
The women do not have the money. We need to help them to be financially independent so that they can afford the cookstove and the feedstock,” she stated.