The Importance of Clean Cookstoves – A Personal Experience

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.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Jennifer, it’s interesting to hear about your experience. As part of becoming a bar mitzvah he made items that he sold to benefit a charity that provides solar cookstoves for Kenyan families. I believe the charity was hoping to replace kerosene stoves, not wood burning, ones, but either way, change to a cleaner fuel is needed.


  2. It’s amazing how something so simple to us in the US can be so needed in other countries. Thank you, as per usual, for writing about these problems and potential solutions!


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