When I was in Tanzania in October I went into a traditional Massai hut where a mother was inside making beans in a kettle over a red hot fire. The fire was ridiculously hot and I couldn’t believe how the woman and her family could endure the heat and smoke from cooking.
While I was in Ethiopia last year observing frontline health workers with Save the Children I had the unfortunate circumstance of going into 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 again 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.