66% of sub-Saharan Africa does not have electricity at home for cooking. This means that, more often than not, it is the girls and women who spend much of their lives trying to find something to use as fuel for their traditional cooking methods. The World Health Organisation estimates this can take up to 3 hours a day, time which could be far better spent in school and on income-generating activities.
Not only are these traditional cooking methods using fuel in a wholly unsustainable way, the household air pollution poses significant health risks: it causes cancer, chronic lung disease, and cataracts. Excessive smoke exposure is the leading risk factor for these diseases – and blindness from cataracts – among non-smoking women in developing countries. The environmental consequences of using unsustainable sources of fuel are devastating. In addition, burning coal, charcoal and wood results in black carbon (caused by incomplete combustion) which is a major contributor to climate change.
The Paballong UK Trust has supported extremely vulnerable households in the Ha Senekane community, identified through children attending the Dr Titi Mohapi Day Care Centre, by building them new, simple houses. The Trust has now provided additional support to these households by giving them smokeless stoves. These stoves have been specifically designed to use biomass safely, efficiently and sustainably. The stove is virtually smokeless, does not produce black carbon, uses 70% less fuel, and - even better! - has a small solar panel which produces basic electricity sufficient to charge mobile phones and LED lights.