Adopting clean cooking to mitigate indoor air pollution in developing countries

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Adopting clean cooking to mitigate indoor air pollution in developing countries

Dirty cooking fuels are major contributors to indoor air pollution in developing countries, resulting in millions of premature deaths.

According to the World Health Organization, about 3.8 million people die prematurely from indoor air pollution every year. Several others contract diseases that are linked to smoke-inhalation from biomass – wood, charcoal fires, and animal waste.

In fact, indoor air pollution causes cardiovascular diseases in adults, a bulk of which are women who are exposed while cooking with biomass. This has led to chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases and lung cancer which are great causes of disability and premature death in women in developing countries.

This is because the burning of biomass for cooking releases large quantities of dangerous pollutants including carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and fine particulate matter. Since cooking is done mostly by women and girls in many of these developing countries, they become vulnerable to the harsh effects of indoor air pollution on their health.

For these women and girls, the effects go beyond non-communicable diseases as constant exposure to pollutants has the tendency to affect the brain and lead to behavioral problems, developmental delays, and a decreased IQ in children.

The way forward

Thanks to technology and innovation, the global energy sector is rapidly transforming and moving more towards renewable energy, a shift that is a huge opportunity to achieve greater gender equality and inclusion.

Indoor air pollution can be reduced by adopting cleaner fuels like biogas, ethanol, and liquified petroleum gas.

The adoption of clean energy for cooking is not only essential to protecting women in developing counties but also has the potential to save millions of lives. In addition, clean cooking will help reduce carbon emissions, mitigate biodiversity loss caused by cutting wood for fuel, and lead to decreased forest degradation.

It is only when these poor communities phase out the use of coal and kerosene in homes and make a shift towards renewable energy sources by using safe and efficient household technologies as well as ensuring proper ventilation that they can truly improve the quality of their lives.

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