The importance of clean cookstoves in delivering the SDGs

It’s easy to forget, while moaning about what to cook tonight, that the daily routine of simply turning a few dials on the oven, putting on the TV, and waiting for dinner to be ready, isn’t one that most people in the world can enjoy.

In fact, for over 38% of the world’s population everyday cooking comes with an inherent risk. Household air pollution from the use of inefficient stoves and the burning of unclean fuel for cooking is responsible for around 4 million deaths a year, with women and children most at risk [World Bank, 2018]. To put this into perspective, deaths related to household air pollution total more than the deaths related to malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS combined, making it the second-largest overall health risk for women and girls, and fifth largest health risk for men worldwide [WHO, 2016].

Universal clean cooking is a key component of SDG 7- access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030. However, progress is currently not on track, with access to clean cooking fuels and technologies lagging furthest behind. In fact, the number of people that lack access to clean cooking has sat steady at 2.8 billion since 2000 (accounting for population growth), and according to current projections over 2.3 billion people will still use unsafe cooking solutions in 2030 [World Bank, 2018].

The truth of the matter is that access to clean cooking not only contributes to access to modern and clean energy (SDG 7) and improved health (SDG 3), but its impacts can be felt keenly in 10 out of the 17 global goals including gender equality (SDG 5), climate action (SDG 13) and the elimination of poverty (SDG 1). In other words- without a shift towards universal clean cooking solutions, achievement of most SDGs will also be affected.

The impacts on gender equality, in particular, are key to enabling inclusive progress towards the SDGs. The responsibility of collecting fuel, feeding stoves, and cooking falls disproportionately on women and girls- and therefore the associated risks do too. Without clean cooking solutions, women on average spend 1.4 hours collecting firewood, and 4 hours cooking each day, meaning that they have little time to take part in any other activities [IEA, 2017].

clean cooking and sdgs

Clean Cooking impacts on the SDGs
[Source: Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves]

The solution? Recent meetings on the matter, such as the 2018 SE4All Conference, underlined the need for an inclusive, holistic approach involving multi-stakeholder collaboration, emphasising that the importance of a shift to clean cooking shouldn’t be overlooked. While there is no ‘silver bullet’ answer, it is also clear that women need to be at the centre of ensuring the shift is lasting and effective.

However, major barriers to progress still need to be overcome – including the upfront cost associated with improved cooking solutions, and delivering solutions in rural areas. Clean cookstove projects, like those implemented by Co2balance, therefore play a vital role in providing viable, affordable clean cooking solutions to those who are most at risk; ensuring sustainable finance for long-term progress; and are key to enabling the achievement of the SDGs.

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World Water Day 2018 – Impacts from WASH Projects in Rwanda

This World Water Day, there are still around 663 million people without access to clean drinking water sources, and over 2.4 billion people lacking access to basic sanitation services. Yet, access to clean drinking water and WASH facilities are at the core of ensuring health, education, and human and economic development.

Through the work we do at Co2Balance, we are committed to working towards the goals of clean water and sanitation access for all. The impacts that these can have, notably in creating effective and positive learning environments, can keenly be felt in our school WASH programmes, which have been carried out in 4 schools in Northern Uganda, and most recently in 4 schools in Rwanda.

In Gatsibo, a district in the northern part of Rwanda’s Eastern Province, low levels of infrastructure particularly impacted schools, most notably with a lack of electricity, lack of access WASH training, and a lack of government support to maintain school facilities. Along with our partner, Rwandans 4 Water, we have been working in Gatsibo to rehabilitate 63 boreholes to provide communities with vital clean water access, as well as working in 4 schools to rehabilitate school latrines, install 250 hand-washing points, provide WASH training, form WASH Clubs, and provide solar charging and lighting points.

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WASH Clubs, that promote and share WASH techniques and training with their school bodies, have been particularly successful. Each club now boasts more than 30 student members that organise events and performances related to WASH themes. We are now even looking at how we can expand the WASH Clubs nation-wide.

Anualite Murikatete, who leads the WASH club at Ntete Primary School expressed great satisfaction at the way in which pupils have taken on key WASH messages, noting they have taken on WASH approaches very well, particularly in regard to using the newly installed handwashing points.

Emmanuel Nyonzima, a P6C pupil at Gorora Primary School, was particularly enthusiastic about the new facilities and WASH Club in his school:

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 “We are very happy to see the facilities that are now in the school. Now the toilets are private and have platforms so you can go there without fear for the hygiene situation. We also now have handwashing points at the school. Thanks to this club which is doing a lot of demonstrations, all the pupils now know about the need to wash our hands after using the toilet, and we have facilities to do that.”

The rehabilitation of latrines and handwashing facilities have also created significant positive wider impacts in the schools, with Ruth Muhorakeye, the Deputy Head Teacher at Gogora Primary School saying:

“Making the toilet facilities private and enclosed was very important for the dignity of the pupils here, especially for the girls who suffered great shame at having nowhere to privately relieve themselves. We are very happy that pupils don’t have to worry about this anymore. We now see pupils washing their hands every time they use the latrine, and following the WASH training, teachers report that children are now engaging much more enthusiastically in keeping the classrooms and school clean.”

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Introducing Emma

Hello there! My name is Emma and I’m the newest addition to the co2balance team in Taunton, having joined as a Carbon Projects Officer 3 weeks ago.  I am extremely excited to join such a passionate and knowledgeable team working towards delivering impactful and community focused solutions to mitigate climate change. Thank you to the entire co2balance team -in the UK, Kenya, and Uganda- for giving me such a warm welcome!

I joined co2balance from 21st Century Leaders Foundation where I worked as a Project Consultant and Co-Ordinator developing a variety of projects in Mozambique, and raising funds for projects worldwide. My experience also includes 5 months working with GlobalGiving (a crowdfunding platform dedicated to helping non-profits access donors and training), where I carried out training, monitoring and evaluation, and outreach for their projects in Ecuador.

My journey into the world of developing emission-reducing international projects with co2balance began with an LLB in European Law and 2 years working in the legal sector. However, following my passion for international development and the global environmental issues, in 2016 I decided to complete an MSc in Environment and Development at the University of Edinburgh. My thesis centred around the community empowerment impacts of community owned micro renewable energy projects- which gave me really great insight into the wider social impacts that projects like those that co2balance implement can have!

Outside of work I‘d probably be found trying out a new recipe in the kitchen, on a hike in the countryside, or watching some live music!

I’m really looking forward to working on projects that not only have a significant impact in the global fight against climate change, but that also centre around the benefits to the local community and environment.

 

ED

At Quilotoa Crater Lake, Ecuador