The majority of the developing world uses open fires and biomass stoves to cook their food and purify water. These methods are not efficient, requiring constant fuel for the fire to burn. In addition, the emissions are unclean and often cause health hazards for the women and children who breathe them in regularly.
These cooking methods waste valuable time, with the user having to constantly seek out fuel. The cookstoves and open fires further waste time when the user becomes sick more often because of the dirty fumes.
Open fires and burning biomass also release fumes like black carbon and methane into the environment, which speeds up climate change and increases air pollution.
This release of chemicals has taken its toll on its users. About four million premature deaths occur annually from the smoke exposure.
Smoke related illnesses include child pneumonia, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cataracts (which lead to blindness), heart disease and even low birth weight (for the babies of mothers who intake smoke regularly during pregnancy).
Luckily, the world’s change makers are acknowledging the importance of this issue, and organizations are being created to solve it.
Colorado University has teamed up with Baylor University to create a clean burning, fuel efficient cooking stove that is affordable and will last five years. They have financial backing from Shell Foundation, which is willing to grant $25,000,000 to make 10,000,000 of the clean stoves if the project is successful.
Top Third Ventures Ltd. has studied the traditional, developing world stove, and has used this model to create a fuel efficient, clean-burning innovation that maintains cultural similarities. The stove has the same physics as the classic “three stone fire,” but it involves less work to operate and produces less smoke.
While some organizations are focusing on the creation of the stove innovations, others are stressing the implementation of these stoves into poor households.
The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves has adopted the ambitious goal of ensuring 100 million households are provided with a clean cookstove by the year 2020. They are promoting the use of stoves and fuels that are affordable, sustainable and culturally acceptable among users.
The group has prioritized six countries, Bangladesh, China, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda, to start enabling market growth so households can obtain a stove, and producers in the country can supply them.
With the combined forces of science teams creating cleaner cooking technology and logistic teams focusing on the new stoves’ circulation, the possibility of a cleaner, healthier future is well on its way.
– Courtney Prentice
Sources: Energy for Development, Clean Cookstoves, Baylor, Indie Go Go
Photo: Carbon Finance for Cookstoves