The Need for Clean Cookstoves
Three billion people – half the world’s population – need a safer way to cook According to “The Energy Access Situation in Developing Countries”, a review completed by the World Health Organization and United Nations Development Program, 91% of the population in Least Developed Countries (LDCs) is without access to modern fuels. LDCs have 3 billion people – half the world’s population – relying on solid fuels of biomass and coal for their cooking needs. They primarily cook on open fires or unimproved cookstoves. These cooking methods cause problems for these people and the environment.
Smoke Inhalation - Exposure to smoke from traditional cookstoves and open fires causes 4 million premature deaths annually, with women and young children the most affected. Cookstove smoke contributes to a range of chronic illnesses and acute health impacts such as early childhood pneumonia, emphysema, cataracts, lung cancer, bronchitis, cardiovascular disease, and low birth weight. The World Health Organization estimates harmful cookstove smoke to be the fourth worst overall health risk factor in developing countries.
Personal Safety - The large amount of fuel needed for traditional cookstoves or open fires forces women and children to spend many hours each week collecting wood, which poses severe personal security risks as they forage for fuel from refugee camps and in conflict zones. Additionally, in South Africa alone 15,000 children a year fall into open fires and are badly burned.
Time & Money - Women and children can spend 4-6 hours each day collecting fuel for cooking. Households can also spend a great percentage of their income paying for charcoal, which leaves less money for food and other needs.
Deforestation - Reliance on biomass for cooking and heating increases pressures on local natural resources like forests. Deforestation rates around the globe are on the rise. Check out the speed of deforestation and deforestation rates for specific countries on Google Earth.
Climate Change - Open fires and inefficient cookstoves contribute to climate change through emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane, and aerosols such as black carbon. Even when biomass fuels are renewably harvested, thereby avoiding a net increase of atmospheric CO2, these other greenhouse pollutants still contribute to significant climate warming. Recent research shows that black carbon contributes to 18% of global warming. An article from the New York Times states that, “In fact, reducing black carbon is one of a number of relatively quick and simple climate fixes using existing technologies – often called “low hanging fruit” – that scientists say should be plucked immediately to avert the worst projected consequences of global warming. “It is clear to any person who cares about climate change that this will have a huge impact on the global environment,” said Dr. Ramanathan, a professor of climate science at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, who is working with the Energy and Resources Institute in New Delhi on a project to help poor families acquire new stoves.” Learn more about this issue at the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves and the United Nations Development Programme: The Energy Access Situation in Developing Countries report. (Download Report)
Improved cookstoves burn fuel more efficiently and offer a solution to these problems.
Smoke Inhalation - improved cookstoves reduce exposure to harmful smoke and other emissions because they combust more fully than an open fire or unimproved stove. That means that the gases have more time to burn before they exit the stove. The extra time allows harmful emissions to burn away.
Personal Safety - improved cookstoves dramatically reduce fuel consumption which means that women and children do not have to spend as much time gathering fuel in dangerous places. The improved cookstoves are also contained fires, which are safe for children to be around.
Time & Money – as the efficiency of the stove decreases the amount of fuel needed, families can spend less of their income buying it and use that money for other things (like extra food or education). Or if they family was collecting fuel, women and children can save time and divert it to more economically productive activities like building a business or attending school.
Deforestation - as improved cookstoves use less fuel the need to cut down trees is greatly reduced.
Climate Change - improved cookstoves decrease CO2 emissions and black carbon, seen by many scientists as the number one and number two causes of global warming. However, many people in the world do not have access to improved cookstoves.
Distribution of People with Access to Improved Cookstoves, 2007
EcoZoom is part of the movement to fix this problem.
The EcoZoom Stove
EcoZoom stoves save 1-3 tons of carbon emissions per year, use up to 70% less fuel and burn 70% cleaner than the open fire. It can also pay for itself in fuel savings in a few months in areas where fuel is purchased. The stove is a safe, portable option that is accepted and used by cooks on six continents.