News / Africa

Traditional Stoves Detrimental to Heath, Environment in Nigeria

Traditional Stoves Detrimental to Heath, Environment in Nigeriai
|| 0:00:00
X
Heather Murdock
September 21, 2012 1:43 PM
After Malaria and AIDS, Nigeria's number one cause of death is diseases associated with traditional cooking. Activists say nearly 100,000 people die yearly in Nigeria from what they call a “silent energy crisis.” Heather Murdock brings us more from the Nigerian capital, Abuja.
Heather Murdock
After malaria and AIDS, Nigeria's number one cause of death is diseases associated with traditional cooking.  Activists say nearly 100,000 people die yearly in Nigeria from what they call a "silent energy crisis." 

Bola Abiola serves amala, a traditional Nigerian dish made of yam flour while smoke billows from the nearby outdoor kitchen.

Like many Nigerian cooks, she does not know about the health risks from the smoky wooden stoves that boil the amala, which activists are now calling "killers" of both people and the environment. 

But like many who cook with traditional stoves in Nigeria she doesn’t feel there is any choice.

"If we use kerosene or charcoal it takes too much time to cook the food and costs us a lot more money," she said. "Firewood is best for us because it takes 30 minutes to cook something that could take an hour and a half."

Activists say the wood smoke emits toxins, causing eye problems, lung and heart diseases and increasing the risk of strokes. 

Hamzat Lawal works for the International Centre for Energy, Environment and Development in Nigeria, one of several organizations lobbying for new policies that increase the supply- and demand- for safer stoves.  He says it has been difficult to get kerosene, gas or energy-efficient wood stoves in the hands of the people - most of whom cook on traditional wood stoves.

And he says, it’s not just the men and women who cook who are in danger.

"Our mothers carry our younger ones on their backs.  And that smoke also affects them.  So, over time we get to lose some of these children from the effects of the smoke," he said.

He says electrical stoves are not currently on the agenda because most people in Nigeria don’t have access to electricity.  Those that have power, have it sporadically - sometimes only a few hours a day.

These men grill goat on the side of a street in the outskirts of the capital.  Dan Malik says he spends all day standing over smoke from the wood fire.  He says his eyes hurt and he expects other problems later in life.

"I’m aware of the long-term effects but I have no other options because I don’t have another business to turn to," he said.

Officials say traditional stoves in Nigeria are also unsustainable, with deforestation rates already among the highest in the world.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Head: Breach Won't Happen Again

update Julia Pierson answers questions about the latest break-in well as several other embarrassing incidents involving the agency More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid