Total Land Care (TLC) says health and economic effects of urbanisation emanating from population growth can be alleviated if Malawi adopts modern cooking methods.
According to TLC co-founder and executive director Dr Trent Bunderson, cooking constitutes a greater portion of the effects which, he says, has contributed to climate change.
Bunderson was speaking in Malawiâ€™s capital, Lilongwe, during a recent stakeholders consultative meeting on Improved Cook Stoves Project his organisation plans to implement in Malawi and Mozambique next year.
“We are talking of deforestation and degradation, high greenhouse gas emissions and insufficient medical supplies in hospitalsâ€”all this can be construed to one simple thing: Cooking, which is an important element of life even in less populated areas, but it doesnâ€™t have to kill like it is [doing] now,” he said.
Under the project, the improved cook stove, which will be coming in a range of fixed portable stoves made of brick, ceramic or metal, will seek to replace the commonly used three-stone fireplaces that experts say poses a health risk to users.
“Studies indicate that the world incurs nearly two million deaths that emanate from illnesses caused by indoor air pollution annually. This can surely stop, and the first and simple step is to use improved cook stoves, departing from the traditional three-stone fires we normally use.”
Although the project will not restrict on the type of stove to be implemented, it will ensure that they all have a minimum 20 percent thermal efficiency to suit the needs and customs of local households.
If adopted, the two countries stand to reap some environmental, health and socioeconomic benefits in the long run through the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) initiative that was created by the Kyoto Protocol to allow access to funds by developing nations to finance clean energy projects.
Deputy director of environmental affairs in the Ministry of Climate Change and Environmental Management Dr Aloysius Kamperewera said adoption of the improved stoves will be more evidence of the countryâ€™s commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions to reduce the effects of global climate change.
“Yes, we stand a chance to gain from the carbon markets. All we need is to balance the resources that people have with the efficiency of such technology; otherwise, we really need to quickly move away from the domestic use of charcoal which has proved not only to be a health hazard, but costly and, therefore, unsustainable,” Kamperewera said.
Meanwhile, experts say a household currently uses 2.6 tonnes of wood per year, which equals 15 trees per year; over 20 percent of household income is spent on fuel wood, translating to $150 to $250 annually while women and children spend over 520 hours yearly collecting fuel wood per household.
According to Kamperewera, it takes seven tonnes of wood to form a tonne of charcoal.
“With 15 large trees saved [or 40 medium size trees] in one year, plus some three to five tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) saved; the improved cook stove is obviously the best remedy to all this mess,” said Bunderson.