Millions of people in developing countries especially Africa, cooks for their families’ just as our ancestors did thousands of years ago: with three rocks on the ground, over an open fire, burning dung, coal and wood for fuel.
Cooking this way is a silent killer. The World Health Organization reports that 4.3 million people die prematurely due to inhaling the toxic pollution from unsafe open hearth stoves—10,000 people every day. A disproportionate number of those affected are women and girls who often spend hours gathering fuel and breathing in damaging amounts of carcinogenic smoke as they cook.
Beyond the enormous burden this method of food preparation has on human lives, unsustainably harvested firewood contributes to vast deforestation, mudslides and the destruction of fishing industries. Not to mention, the carcinogenic smoke from combusted solid fuels account for roughly 2 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and up to 25 percent of the world’s black carbon emissions.
Fortunately, a “clean cooking” movement is gaining ground. Solarity alongside its partners and team, are working to raise awareness and develop solutions for this little-known yet significant global health issue. Thanks to innovative technological advances in stove and fuel development, formation of standards and testing and greater investment in market-based approaches, Solarity has helped and still reaching more households to gain access to cleaner, more efficient Clean cook stoves and fuels in the past five years alone.
Yet, while momentum is building, far too many people are being impacted by diseases caused by smoke from traditional cooking methods. More must be done to increase awareness and change dangerous behaviors that have been part of too many cultures for millennia.