Clean Cooking Is a Humanitarian Necessity
Over 131 million people worldwide are in need of humanitarian assistance, and more than 70 million people have been displaced from their homes due to conflict, war, and disaster.
Almost all lack access to clean cooking solutions. While most of the food that humanitarian agencies provide to displaced people must be cooked before it can be eaten, cookstoves and fuel are rarely provided. CCA and its humanitarian partners are working to change that.
Without access to clean cooking solutions, displaced people are exposed to health risks, including respiratory infections from smoke produced by inefficient stoves and fuels.
Women and children may risk their safety, health—and sometimes their lives—to search for and collect firewood so they can cook food over smoky, polluting open fires. In many cases, women walk for hours to find firewood and must carry heavy loads back to their camp, which puts them at risk for physical and sexual attacks, dehydration, and physical injuries. Children who collect firewood, or accompany their mothers in the collection, cannot attend school. Many displaced people sell or exchange a portion of their food rations to procure the firewood needed to cook the remaining food. Such coping mechanisms can have serious consequences, including malnutrition.
Moreover, in situations where firewood is the main source of fuel, such as in Sub-Saharan Africa, competition for dwindling natural resources is a trigger for tension between displaced people and host communities. The collection of firewood by refugees can cause deforestation and environmental degradation, which can be long-lasting and difficult to reverse. It also can lead to a ban on firewood collection, which prevents refugees from cooking their food and leads to devastating consequences for their nutrition.
Safe and reliable access to energy for cooking, lighting, and powering is a basic need. Programs that improve access to these needs save lives and protect livelihoods in emergencies and crisis settings.
Ensuring access to cleaner, more modern stoves and fuels for vulnerable populations has been a component of CCA’s work since its founding. For many years, CCA co-chaired the steering committee of the Safe Access to Fuel and Energy (SAFE) group, a consortium of humanitarian organizations whose mission is to facilitate a more coordinated, predictable, timely, and effective response to the energy needs of crisis-affected populations.
Today, CCA joins UNHCR, WFP, UNICEF, FAO, WRC, and others as a steering committee member of the Global Plan of Action (GPA) – a non-binding framework to ensure that all refugees and displaced people enjoy safe access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy services by 2030. The GPA is hosted by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR).