Four out of every five rural and one out of every five urban households primarily depend on direct burning of solid biomass fuel like fuel wood, crop residue and cattle dung in traditional mud stove/ three stone fire for cooking.
Such traditional cooking practice is characterized by incomplete combustion of biomass fuels resulting in emission of toxic smoke. Women (and accompanying children) who get exposed to this smoke every day during cooking food in a mud stove, particularly in poorly ventilated kitchens, face increased risk of pneumonia, respiratory diseases, etc.
It is not just the human health impact of cooking on an open flame that is so devastating. The overdependence on fuel to power inefficient cooking leads to massive environmental degradation and binds vulnerable communities to a life of grinding poverty.
These inefficient solid fuel cook stoves lead to the following issues:-
PREMATURE DEATH AND HEALTH ISSUES
According to WHO over 4,000,000 people die every year due to diseases caused by indoor air pollution. This is majorly due to production of smoke and harmful gases during cooking on inefficient solid fuel cook stoves.
Percentage of diseases casued by indoor air pollution
INHALATION OF SMOKE
It is widely accepted that smoking cigarettes is considered very bad for health. Many agencies around the world are trying to get people to leave smoking.
But do you know that cooking for 1 day using traditional inefficient solid fuel stoves is equivalent to SMOKING 40 Cigarettes. Don’t you think this is reason alone to replace these stoves? Women and children are most affected by this smoke.
Inhaling vast amounts of smoke and black carbon is incredibly detrimental to human health. In fact, when people cook on rudimentary cook stoves and open fires, they are often inhaling carbon monoxide and other pollutants at levels up to 100 times higher than the recommended limits set by WHO.
Traditional cooking methods are hurting the environment. Burning coal, charcoal and wood causes the emission of black carbon – which results from incomplete combustion – and is a major contributor to climate change.
Most people using solid fuel rely on collecting wood from nearby forests. This activity is illegal and leads to massive deforestation. 12-14 kgs of wood is consumed in a day for cooking on traditional stoves. The load on our forests is huge due to these stoves.
COSTS AND TIME CONSUMPTION
There are huge costs associated with collecting/buying wood. In cases where wood is collected women spend upto 3 hours daily for collecting wood, time which can be constructively used.
The United Nations estimates that roughly 21% of the global population still lives without electricity. This keeps people locked into a life where they must continually prioritize the pursuit of energy over other activities. In doing so people can end up spending upto 25% of their income.