It is everyone’s joy that as night creeps in and the last rays of the sun give in; there is a clean home to return to for rest. Young ones are seen running up and down playing the evening away as others are running after goats and sheep as they put them into their sheds. Women are seen carrying firewood to the mud and wooden huts ready to prepare the evening meals. The older men are in groups charting about one thing or another. But as darkness sets in, every woman will sit in front of a fire place to prepare a meal for her family – and this is where the problems start from.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), close to three billion people worldwide – nearly half the global population – rely on open fires and traditional stoves for cooking. These heating methods rely on biomass for fuel, which is notoriously inefficient, contributes to deforestation and climate change, and produces a large amount of smoke. This exposure to smoke has come with significant health consequences to those who tend to hearth and home.
WHO indicates that smoke from traditional stoves is a great environmental pollutants and thus implicates exposure to smoke from cook fires and stoves in close to two million premature deaths per year – surpassing deaths associated with tuberculosis and malaria – and cites these cooking methods as the fifth most serious risk factor for illness in the developing world.
In addition unsustainable use of biomass as fuel is causing environmental degradation in most developing countries. Foraging for fuel contributes to deforestation, soil erosion, water pollution, loss of soil fertility, and ultimately, desertification. Currently this is great menace for sub-Saharan Africa.
It is for this reason that we have a Carbon Zero stove as a candid consideration which relieves hard times for women who tirelessly work in smoky kitchens. In many parts of the country in Kenya we have raised people’s awareness of the importance of having a healthy cook stove in the kitchen hence distributed more than 60,000 energy efficient cook stoves – this has not been an easy task! Our principle motivation and driving force has been the desire to reduce smoke inhalation and related illnesses among African communities, as well as burn related injuries caused by traditional fires.
This has given many of our beneficiaries’ peace in their kitchens. With the deep understanding that there are various efforts to combat climate change across the globe we chose to join the efforts and focus at household level where degradation starts from. Through influencing and changing mindsets at household levels through cooking habits and adoption of energy efficient cook stoves then step by step we reach to the community, region, country and the globe at large hence standing out tall and high as ambassadors for climate change! YES; we value the environment and controlling environmental degradation begins from the household level.
Compiled by; Virginia Njata and Moses Maina