If you're reading this, chances are you're fortunate enough to have a stove in your home where you can prepare your meals. It probably runs on electricity or natural gas. For millions of poverty-stricken people, though, making dinner means gathering wood or trash and burning it to cook their food.
Across the world, cooking fires lead to illness for millions of people in poverty while contributing to climate change. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton formed The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves along with the UN and a group of NGOs to help bring clean stoves to people in need.
Health and Safety
According to The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, over 1.9 million people die prematurely each year because of smoke from cooking fires.
The smoke is also responsible for chronic illnesses ranging from bronchitis to lung cancer. It's especially dangerous for children and pregnant women, causing childhood pneumonia and low birth weight.
Gathering fuel for cooking fires usually falls to women, and it can be a huge safety issue, especially in places with little law enforcement. Women heading out on their own to gather wood or trash are at much higher risk for attack than when they're with their families.
Sure, cooking outside or installing a chimney helps reduce the health risks, but tactics like this don't reduce the environmental impacts of cooking smoke.
Burning wood or trash for fuel pollutes the air and contributes to climate change. The smoke contains CO2 and methane, harmful greenhouse gases. Clean cookstoves can reduce these harmful emissions by 40-95%.
Clean Cooking Stoves
The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves wants to put clean cookstoves into 100 million households by 2020 by working to raise awareness and build the necessary supply chains.
There are a number of different technologies, from gas stoves to ones that run on solar power.
While the Alliance is focusing on commercially-produced stoves, I wonder if they're looking into solutions that folks can build themselves? Over at Sustainablog, Ziggy talked about how to build a solar cooker for less than $20.
In addition to new initiatives, the Alliance is planning to partner with existing programs promoting cleaner stoves, like Project Surya.
Image Credit: Creative Commons photo via The World Bank Photo Collection