Wednesday, July 26, 2023
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Web Desk

Food for thought: How unclean cooking has become a major health hazard

Lack of access to clean cooking negatively impacts public health

By
Web Desk
Nigerian Chef Hilda Bassey, 27, attempts to break the Guinness World Record for the longest cooking time by an individual, in Lagos, Nigeria May 15, 2023. — Reuters
Nigerian Chef Hilda Bassey, 27, attempts to break the Guinness World Record for the longest cooking time by an individual, in Lagos, Nigeria May 15, 2023. — Reuters

A recent study published Wednesday suggested that nearly 2.3 billion people in the world are opting for cooking methods — such as using open fires or basic stoves — that are adversely impacting not only their health but also the world environment.

The International Energy Agency and the African Development Bank Group, which jointly produced the report, called for spending $8 billion per year to ensure every household worldwide has access to clean cooking by 2030.

"The lack of access to clean cooking negatively impacts public health, perpetuates deforestation, and increases greenhouse gas emissions," said President Akinwumi Adesina of the African Development Bank Group.

The report estimates that the collection of wood and charcoal for cooking results in the loss of areas of forest the size of Ireland each year.

Exposure to smoke from charcoal, firewood, coal, agricultural waste and animal dung burned to prepare meals causes 3.7 million premature deaths, ranking it the third largest cause of premature death globally.

The report said the worst impacts from the lack of clean cooking fall on women, who are typically responsible for collecting fuel and thus keep them away from education or employment.

While China, India and Indonesia have halved the number of their citizens who lack access to clean cooking since 2010, the situation has worsened in Africa and current policies won't resolve the problem in the next three decades, according to the report.

The IEA and African Development Bank Group said the $8 billion in annual investments is less than 1% of what governments spent last year on fuel subsidies.

"Solving access to clean cooking does not require a technological breakthrough," said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol.

"It comes down to political will from governments, development banks and other entities seeking to eradicate poverty and gender inequality."