Cooking made healthier

KAMPALA, Uganda–There is money to be made in finding cooking methods that do not severely deplete forest cover and cause respiratory illnesses.

That is why developing ever more efficient stoves is a growth area for sometime to come.

For millions of households in developing countries, cooking is associated with long hours spent collecting wood and other bio-fuels. 

The majority in rural areas cannot afford to buy paraffin and electricity is considered far too expensive to cook with. Prices for paraffin in Uganda increased by Ush17 to Ush95 a litre between January and December last year.

Charcoal prices also increased in the same period to Ush49 for every 4 kilogrammes. This has pushed more Ugandans to the use firewood since cooking gas is considered out of their league.

WHO estimates show that about 50,000 people die annually in East Africa due to indoor air pollution. More than 10 million people in Kenya live in households that cook on traditional open fires in built-in kitchens.

In addition, smoky kitchens and the use of high intensity carbon fuels such as charcoal lead to dangerous emissions, which affect both health and the environment. It is estimated that air pollution caused by inefficient stoves leads to 1.45 million premature deaths each year, more than those from malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/Aids. 

Global Village Energy Partnership (GVEP) is one of several organisations involved in alerting Ugandans on how  supporting the development of markets for fuel-efficient and modern energy could not only help in reduction of air pollution, but also save the environment.

For the past 10 to 15 years, institutions and schools around East Africa have been urged to adopt improved cooking stoves which according to research will save 50% of biomass.

“By accelerating the use of modern energy use and most especially cooking methods, the now dying eco-system will be revived,” James Milau the Country Director GVEP International (Uganda) said at a launch of a range of  cooking stoves.

The Ministry of Energy is also in the process developing a legislation that will make it mandatory for all institutions that use firewood and charcoal to adopt improved cooking stoves.

 In the absence of new policies, the number of people relying on biomass will increase to over 2.6 billion by 2015 and to 2.7 billion by 2030 because of population growth. That means one-third of the world’s population will still be relying on these fuels. 

The advantages of promoting eco-stoves include helping to develop small  scale industries. Famous people have takeb up the banner of pushing for more use of eco-stoves.

Hollywood actor, Julia Roberts supports the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, which was launched by Hillary Clinton.

 “Cookstoves can have a transformative impact on women, as well as on their families, their communities and their environment. The numerous benefits include better health, increased safety, reduced poverty, cleaner air, and a more sustainable environment. 

That’s why I am helping the alliance promote the adoption of 100 million clean cookstoves by 2020, inspired by the possibilities that lie ahead for women and their families once the smoke clears,” Roberts said earlier this year.