Kiva Innovations: Julia Roberts, cookstoves and health in the developing world
Cooking dinner can be a dangerous business (in my household, more so for the diners than for the cook). But for poor people around the world, flavor is the least of their concerns.
The World Health Organization (WHO) lists indoor air pollution from household cooking as the leading environmental cause of death in the world. It contributes to over 2 million deaths annually — more than are caused by malaria. And poor households that burn biomass (wood, charcoal, dung or crop residues) as fuel for heating and cooking are impacted the most.
The smoke that fills homes is thick with carcinogens equivalent to smoking 400 cigarettes. Women and children living in poverty are at the highest risk for illness because they are constantly exposed to fumes. The burden of gathering fuel also falls to women and girls, squandering daylight hours that could be used for studying or earning income.