Safer, healthier meal preparation

About the project

Methods of cooking in the Democratic Republic of Congo can be dangerous, inefficient and costly.

With the current cooking practices, gases and particulate matter escape as smoke and toxic fumes, which are collectively referred to as household air pollution (HAP). HAP-related illness accounts for 75,000 deaths each year. Most citizens rely on the biofuels wood and charcoal for cooking, and among the most disadvantaged households, fuel accounts for 80% of the family budget.

Clean Cookstoves address a trifecta of development goals; they immediately improve health and economic condition, and have a positive environmental impact. These positive outcomes directly impact women and young children, the target population segments of the ASSP project.

The Clean Cookstoves project component looks at three key areas: technology and education, economic leverage, and rural and urban fuel. The primary technical advantage of Clean Cookstoves is the more complete conversion of fuel to useful energy.

In Clean Cookstoves, smoke and fumes are trapped and consumed, producing more energy as they reduce HAP. This is good news, because 95% of children under 5 are currently exposed to HAP on a regular basis and 15% are diagnosed with related diseases. There is a surprising lack of awareness, in both urban and rural communities, regarding the correlation between exposure to HAP and these health deficits.

The youngest children, especially babies strapped to mother’s back, spend their days and nights close to the fire. From an early age they become so accustomed to smoke that they will not move out of it even given easy opportunity to do so.

The project improves economic conditions because biofuels are more completely consumed in Clean Cookstoves, which means less fuel is needed. The result is less of a burden on family budgets. Our in-home stove studies indicate that reductions in fuel requirements of 50% are common. Reduced fuel consumption, in turn, reduces the impact on forest resources.

The cost of inefficient cooking methods can be measured economically in urban areas, amounting to millions of dollars each day, with the heaviest burden falling on the poorest citizens. In rural areas, inefficiencies translate into workload and risk, both of which fall disproportionately on women and girls who are expected to gather and carry wood many kilometers each day.

AT-A-GLANCE

Objectives
  • Reduce total population exposure to HAP with the consequent health benefits, including reduced disease and mortality particularly among ASSP target populations of women and children, including the most affected, under 5 year old cohort.
  • Reduced fuel requirements at the household level, increasing wealth by freeing resources currently used to acquire biomass fuel, which is economically progressive as the poorest DRC households spend the highest proportion of their budget on fuel.
  • Reduce the pressure on forest resources in the DRC.