“Why do I get tears in my eyes when you cook inside the room?” asks Mamta’s daughter, looking at her mother while she prepares rice and daal in a chula, a firewood-burning cookstove.
The smoke released from the burning wood is quickly filling up the small room of their home, in the village of Siraj Nagar, outside of Dhaka in Bangladesh. Most households in the village use a chula, exposing entire families to harmful fumes.
Just like Mamta, there are nearly 3 billion people around the world who still rely on traditional, inefficient stoves for cooking and heating their homes, which burn wood, charcoal, coal, animal dung or crop waste. The estimated health, environmental and economic cost of this continued use of solid fuels staggering: $123 billion annually. Women and children are disproportionally affected by the health impacts, and bear much of the burden of collecting firewood or other traditional fuels. Greenhouse gas emissions from nonrenewable wood fuels alone amount to a gigaton of CO2 per year – about 1.9-2.3 percent of global emissions.
Shifting to clean, efficient cooking can improve people’s health, reduce toxic air pollution, increase productivity and protect the environment. But changing cooking practices in households across the world is more complicated than it seems. It requires changing behavior and raising awareness of the benefits of clean cookstoves and fuels, as well as helping businesses to meet this demand with affordable products that customers value.
To meet this challenge, the World Bank has scaled up its commitments in recent years. It now manages a $130 million portfolio in clean cooking and heating across 13 countries – one of the largest such portfolios in the world. Working with partners, and through its Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP), the World Bank is taking a multifaceted approach combining innovative market-based strategies, efficient stove technologies, better affordability, development of supply chains, and a focus on consumer behavior.
World Bank programs in countries such as China, Ethiopia, Kenya, Indonesia, Senegal and Uganda have already benefited 11 million people who now have access to cleaner, more efficient cooking and heating solutions.
These programs translate into countless individual stories. In Indonesia, Tami, a 24-year-old mother of two started using a Keren Super Stove as her primary cook stove with help from a program supported by the World Bank. She is now able to spend more time with her family and less time cooking and fuel collection. Yeni, another Indonesia woman who was formerly using kerosene, purchased a clean cookstove, and is now saving enough money to send both of her children to school.