U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently announced a new initiative that will put a vital tool into the hands of millions of people in the developing world.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently announced a new initiative that will put a vital tool into the hands of millions of people in the developing world: clean cookstoves.
Every day as many as 3 billion people gather around open fires or old inefficient stoves in small kitchens and poorly ventilated houses. The food they prepare is different on every continent, but the air they breathe is shockingly similar: a toxic mix of chemicals released by burning wood or other solid fuel that can reach 200 times the amount that the Environmental Protection Agency considers safe for breathing.
As the women cook, smoke fills their lungs and the toxins begin poisoning them and their children. The results of daily exposure can be devastating: pneumonia, the number one killer of children worldwide, chronic respiratory diseases, and lung cancer, among others.
But today, said Secretary Clinton, due to technological breakthroughs and private sector engagement, "we can envision a future in which open fires and dirty stoves are replaced by clean, efficient, and affordable stoves" -- some costing as little as $25.
Under the United Nations-led Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves the goal is for one-hundred million homes to adopt new clean stoves and fuels by 2020.
There are three basic elements to implementing the clean cookstove initiative. First, a major applied research and development effort will be required to improve design, lower costs, and develop global cookstove standards. The next step is to create a commercial market for clean stoves, including reducing trade barriers and promoting consumer awareness. And finally, clean stoves will be integrated into international development projects so that refugee camps, disaster relief efforts, and long-term aid programs all act as distribution networks.
The United States is committing more than 50 million dollars over the next 5 years to the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. Partner countries have already contributed an additional $10 million, but much more help is needed to reach the goal of at least $250 million over 10 years. The benefits will be cleaner and safer homes, and that in turn will create healthier families, stronger communities, and more stable societies.