News / Africa

Kenyan Cookstoves Don’t Significantly Reduce Pollution

Saving money is one of the many benefits of clean cookstoves, which use natural gas, solar power or electricity, Kenya, May 2, 2012.Saving money is one of the many benefits of clean cookstoves, which use natural gas, solar power or electricity, Kenya, May 2, 2012.
x
Saving money is one of the many benefits of clean cookstoves, which use natural gas, solar power or electricity, Kenya, May 2, 2012.
Saving money is one of the many benefits of clean cookstoves, which use natural gas, solar power or electricity, Kenya, May 2, 2012.

Multimedia

Audio
Kim Lewis
A recent study examining the health impacts of ceramic cookstoves used in rural Kenyan households found that the risk of pneumonia in children was not significantly reduced.  The findings were published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, and are said to be the first of their kind. 

Dr. Rob Quick, a medical epidemiologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, said he and other researchers conducted a year-long observational study of the health impact of the ceramic stoves called upesi jikos on pneumonia in children under three years old.

“We found after a year that the use of these stoves did not significantly reduce the risk of pneumonia when compared to 3-stone fire pits that are used commonly in that area of Africa,” stated Quick, who also explained the stoves are produced locally according to a standard design and are popular.

“They reduce smoke substantially in the homes, which is one of the sources of their popularity.  They also reduce the risk of children getting burns.  And they provide convenient surface for women to prepare food on.   So these stoves are desirable for a number of other reasons, and we expect that women will continue to use them.  However, we would like to do something about the risk of pneumonia.  To that end, our group is studying six novel cookstove technologies designed to cleaner burning, and we should have results in the next few months to see if one or more of these cookstove designs offer potential for reducing the risk of pneumonia.”     

Quick pointed out that if they do find a stove that does lower the risk of pneumonia in children, then they will attempt to do a subsequent study on that stove to document the health impact.  At present thousands of households in Kenya own the ceramic indoor cookstoves.  Part of the reason for this, said Quick, is that the stoves are economical.

“Ceramic liner costs between two and three dollars—three U.S. dollars.  The installation maybe costs fifty cents to a dollar.  So, for people who earn less than a dollar, these stoves are very affordable.  As I mentioned earlier, they have a number of very desirable characteristics.  So they’re inexpensive and they’re relatively easy to install, and they support the local economy.   People make them, sell them, and install them.  So, they’re essentially creating jobs for people.”  

In the meantime, as research continues on finding improvements in the air quality resulting from the stoves, Quick explained there are some things women—as the main cooks in the household—can do to lower the risks of respiratory symptoms.

“Using these upesi jikos stoves is much preferable to the 3-stone fire pits—the traditional fires—you know which is essentially like a campfire, you know, with all of the smoke and everything, that’s worse.  But, they can do one of two things, if they’re going to use 3-stone fire pits, they can cook outside when weather permits, so the smoke doesn’t fill the house.  The other option is either to build a chimney in the house for the smoke to exit through, or to at least somehow create an opening near the stove for smoke to exit.  But honestly to really make this happen, you need cleaner burning stoves.”      

Quick emphasized that the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves is a partnership of governments, private companies, non-governmental organizations, and other organizations that include the U.N. and the WHO, with the goal of providing cookstoves to 100 million households.

“The reason for this alliance is this very large global problem of people burning these fires in their homes which put children at risk of pneumonia, put people at risk of burns, and also contribute to climate change.  The goal is to develop cleaner burning cookstoves that alleviate all these problems and move populations, particularly in the developing world, to a position of better health.”

Dr. David H. Walker, the new president of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, said “this research on cookstoves illustrates that the approach to improving children’s health must employ strategies that take a holistic view of the child, one that includes the home.”   He added that further studies will help determine where to allocate the increasingly dwindling funding for such studies.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs