When I was in Ethiopia last week observing frontline health workers with Save the Children I had the unfortunate circumstance of going into a home, a traditional hut, where the mother was cooking on her indoor cookstove. The smoke from the burning wood was so thick and powerful I could hardly breathe and couldn’t imagine a family, let alone children and babies, being in an enclosed area with that much damaging smoke.
In Ethiopia communities recognize families as “model families” if they have two separate homes – one for living and one for cooking — but many do not have the resources to create a separate space for cooking.
When you visit developing countries where there is widespread cookstove use you will see children who have a lot of mucus in their noses. Cookstove smoke causes increased risk of pneumonia, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and heart disease. And 2 million people die every year because of indoor health pollution.
Now that I have experienced how harmful cookstoves are I am more adamant about how important clean cookstoves are to the health and well-being of families, particularly women and children.
Read more about what you can do to advocate for clean cookstoves at the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves.
- Saving lives with clean cookstoves: Ethan Kay (tedx.com)
- Some Cleaner Burning Cookstoves Aren’t Clean Enough (scientificamerican.com)
- 6,500 Ghanaians die annually due to exposure to air pollution – WHO (ghanabusinessnews.com)
- Kenyan Cookstoves Don’t Significantly Reduce Pollution (voanews.com)