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Grassroots action for a connected world
Kenya Cook Stoves

The Problem

High efficiency wood-burning stoves are important for many rural areas in Africa. These are some of the benefits they can bring.

Health

  • Daily exposure to toxic smoke from cooking on open fires in poorly ventilated kitchen areas is a major risk factor for disease and premature death.
  • The risk is higher for children, who often do homework or even sleep in the kitchen area.
  • More than half the deaths of children under 5 are due to pneumonia caused by inhaling particulate matter from open fires.
  • The risk is also higher for women, who tend to do the cooking.
  • Health effects are exacerbated for individuals who are HIV positive, when it is particularly important to avoid infection.

Environmental

  • 90% of energy in rural Kenya is met through wood as a fuel
  • Reducing deforestation is critical to biodiversity and reducing the effects of climate change
  • Over 90% wood taken as fuel is not replenished. Increasing drought means new trees planted don’t thrive.
  • Forest cover in Kenya has decreased by about 7% since 1990 (an area the size of Oxfordshire)
  • Fewer trees mean less carbon absorbed
  • Burning wood on open fires causes carbon emissions and air pollution

Economic

  • Time spent collecting firewood from increasingly long distances detracts from income generating or other activities – the burden mainly falling on women.
  • Children also collect firewood, thus detracting from educational activities and exposing them to danger
  • Firewood that is bought, is increasingly expensive due to shortages, and can form a high proportion of household expenditure