Cooking is an inevitable crucial part of human life — an act defined by the cultural, social, and political perspectives of people across the globe.
While a sizable number of people use clean and modern cooking methods, a whooping close to 3 billion people across the world rely entirely on polluting sources such as coal and wood, according to World Bank. The estimated figures are more than the population of China and India combined.
Cooking methods in Kenya
The use of open fires is an everyday affair in most developing countries, Kenya included. It is almost obvious for any rural home in our country to have the 3-stone fire, let alone improved clay-cook stoves.
Even with the rural electrification program, which I must applaud the government for, and the increased support from the civil society and private sector’s investment on clean energy sources, the cooking sector has been overlooked.
Kenyans still go about their business, as usual, using kerosene, firewood, and charcoal as their primary cooking fuel. It is not because they are forced to but because of ease of accessibility at relatively low costs. Clean cooking solutions are crazily expensive for an average Kenyan and, in particular, those persons living in rural, marginalized, and slum areas. Low-income earners are limited by exorbitant prices.
Even with the growing demand for liquid propane gas (LPG) in Kenya, the majority of the urban population cannot meet the cost of regularly refilling their cylinders, forcing them to opt for kerosene and charcoal, most of them being the slum residents.
Notably, more and more people- low-income and middle-class citizens- use charcoal-fired stoves to supplement the LPG for obvious reasons, gas is expensive, and some Kenyan dishes require a lot of heat and time to cook.
Sustainable Development Goal 7
Such instances limit the attainment of Sustainable Development Goal 7 (access to affordable, sustainable, and modern energy for all). Undoubtedly,
access to clean energy should be a fundamental human right for every citizen.
Implication on Human Health
Without improved cooking solutions, persons dependent on traditional cooking methods are risking their health and that of their children. What most people don’t realize is that indoor air pollution from dirty cooking energy sources potentially causes health implications such as asthma, pneumonia, heart conditions, and eye problems due to smoke and even deaths due to suffocation.
World Health Organization estimates that more than 4 million premature deaths every year are caused by indoor air pollution, half of that being children under 5 years.
Because these poor cooking methods are part of us, we rarely realize the dangers associated.
Besides, firewood and charcoal are partly responsible for the increased deforestation rates in Kenya. The charcoal ban has shifted the focus of some people to invest in other cooking energy sources other than charcoal.
Going by the facts and the potential dangers associated, it is important for the government and other stakeholders to prioritize promoting clean cooking solutions not only by sensitization but by subsidizing the costs of materials and availing them closer to the vulnerable citizens.
We will be close to fulfilling SDG7 if my grandmother, back in the village, can at all times go to any shop at the nearby shopping center and procure an improved cookstove or briquettes at an affordable price. The day gas cookers are easily accessed in marginalized communities.
Clean cooking solutions have to be made a political and economic priority for the sake of human health and the environment. Public investments, multi-sectoral plans, policy formulation, and implementation and regulations are essential.
Related posts Household Indoor Air Pollution Is A Silent Tsunami