Household cookstoves, environment, health, and climate change: a new look at an old problem

Household cookstoves, environment, health, and climate change: a new look at an old problem

Examining the lessons learned from biomass cookstove campaigns, policies and programmes

In many developing countries, the poor are still using biomass energy to meet their household cooking needs. This report examines the lessons learned from cookstove campaigns, policies and programmes and the potential of advanced biomass cookstoves as 'game changers'. It notes that indoor biomass cooking smoke is associated with acute respiratory illnesses and cancer disproportionately affecting mostly women and young children. Moreover, the use of traditional biomass stoves for household cooking requires extensive local fuel collection, which is linked to environmental problems and climate change. The report states that due to the underperformance of many past biomass cookstove programmes, there is a misconception that all of the programmes have failed.

Commenting on the potential of 'game changers', the publication observes that:

  • new generation biomass cookstoves are currently available commercially and new financing is also available for climate change mitigation
  • the manufactured cookstoves undergo rigorous consumer testing before public introduction
  • lessons from financing small-scale energy funds provide a good starting point for cookstove financing, in addition to global financing options and possible private sector involvement
  • new international initiatives for promoting advanced cookstoves and alleviating indoor air pollution are being developed.
The report lists a number of challenges in promoting better cookstoves, including: strong and sustained support from national institutions and financing institutions; intelligent financing mechanisms; improvements in performance standards and protocols; and methods to finance the higher initial costs of advanced biomass cookstoves.

The paper concludes that developing and deploying the new generation cookstoves requires cooperation from governments, the private sector, development partners and non-governmental organisations. Furthermore, with the renewed momentum to promote advanced biomass cookstoves, development institutions should mainstream gender and climate change in their development assistance.
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