Clean Cooking Essential to Meeting Poor People’s Energy Needs
The recently released Poor People’s Energy Outlook (PPEO) 2016 Report by Practical Action highlights the importance of meeting the full range of people’s energy needs, including cooking energy. With a staggering 3 billion people around the world cooking over open fires and traditional cookstoves, the report calls for a greater focus on household energy and prioritization of efforts to improve access to clean cooking solutions. These actions are essential to eradicating energy poverty and achieving the Global Goals.
The PPEO Report stresses the powerful benefits clean cooking can provide to multiple facets of an individual’s life:
Universalizing clean cooking would be cheaper than universalizing electricity access, radically free up time that could be dedicated to other important household and productive tasks, improve a variety of health metrics, including mortality, and play an important role in reducing environmental degradation… Cooking with dirty biomass kills millions of people, mostly women and children, and collecting and processing it drains millions of hours per year. Cleaning up cooking will free up not only time but billions of dollars in health care resources, save millions of hectares of forests, cost dramatically less than universalizing electricity, and massively reduce women’s burdens.
Policy and financing are failing to prioritize the needs of the billions of people that live in energy poverty, the report notes. Practical Action believes that in order to change this, “the voices of those who do not have electricity supplies or clean cooking need to be heard more in policy discussions.” As the report’s case studies show, these voices would call for more comprehensive energy planning that accounts for household energy needs, such as cooking.
Prioritizing clean cooking in policymaking would have widespread effects in reducing air pollution and enabling families to live healthier lives. By focusing on the energy needs that most significantly affect women, these actions would address the root causes of gender inequality and support women’s economic empowerment. The report concludes, “All countries need to focus greater attention on clean cooking, and consider it on a par with electricity access: it is cheaper to achieve and provides enormous benefits.”