The wife of Ebonyi State Governor, Chief (Mrs.) Rachael Umahi, in collaboration with the International Centre for Energy, Environment and Development (ICEED) and with support from the Heinrich Boell Stiftung (HBS) has launched the “Ebonyi State Clean Cooking Programme” to avert the health hazards associated with smoke from cooking with firewood among women and children in the state.
Speaking while launching the programme in Abakaliki, the Governor’s Wife, represented by the Chairman of Ohaozara Local Government Area and Chairman of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), Ebonyi State, Mrs. Nkechinyere Iyioku, commended the organisers and ICEED for the lofty initiative as the programme came at the time green house gasses and emissions are attracting global discourse.
The Wife of the Governor in her keynote address mentioned that smoke from kitchen kills about 95,000 people annually, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). She attributed respiratory and eye related problems to inefficient and unclean cooking methods, especially impacting women in the rural areas.
She observed, therefore, that the development of affordable, reliable and research based clean cooking methods has become imperative to save many lives, particularly those in rural communities. She called on Local Government Chairmen, Development Centre Coordinators and Community Leaders to support the programme and ensure clean cooking gets to every household in their various localities.
Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development and chairman of the event, Mrs. Deborah Chinwe Okah, noted that clean cooking saves lives, empower women, improve livelihood and combat climate change. She lauded ICEED’s efforts and the support of Heinrich Boell Stiftung (HBS) in providing access to safe and clean cooking energy in the State and expressed optimism that the local production of clean cooking solutions would create job opportunities, improve health conditions of Women and reduce pressure on forests.
She appreciated Chief (Mrs.) Umahi for her commitment and buy-in to the achievement of the targets of the state clean cooking programme and reiterated the mandate given to her by Mrs. Umahi to ensure the full implementation of the programme.
Executive Director of ICEED, Mr. Ewah Eleri, in his welcome address, hinted that excessive use of firewood has contributed to environmental damages, climate change and also has caused a lot of health challenges for women and children.
“The Ebonyi State clean cooking programme being launched today will bring the benefits of clean cooking to 130,000 households in the state,” he said, even as he charged Local Government Council Chairmen to establish clean cookstoves production centre in their various LGAs as it would create at least 4,000 jobs in Ebonyi State.
In his goodwill message, Jochen Luckscheiter, Country Director, Heinrich Boell Stiftung, congratulated the Ebonyi State Government for taking up the issue of clean cooking and putting it into its programming.
He mentioned that “driving the clean cooking agenda involves thinking and acting from the ground-up to understand people’s habits and to influence them to think in fine prints and in many ways decentralised systems that can enable change. He concluded that clean cooking does not create the necessary headlines but saves lives, the forest and the climate and is a proverbial low hanging fruit to reduce emissions in Nigeria”.
In their goodwill messages, the State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Daniel Umezuruike and his counterpart for Environment Dr. Richard Nnabue, extolled Chief (Mrs.) Umahi for taking such bold step and called all and sundry to support the programme to better the lives of women and children.
They described the programme as a welcome development and explained that people die untimely because of inefficient and unclean cooking technologies and observed that embracing the project would enhance the sustainability of humanity and the environment, adding that their ministries would do all humanly possible to avert such challenges and support the clean cooking programme.
Also in their goodwill messages, the Commissioner for Local Government, Chieftaincy Matters and Rural Development, Chief. Donatus Njoku, and Commissioner for Commerce, Industry and Business Development, Dr. Stephen Odoh, lamented the increasing challenges of cooking with firewood and associated smoke in the country and called on leaders and stakeholders in Ebonyi State to endeavour to step down the project to the local communities and make it an empowerment scheme among youths to attain the desired goals.
Dr. Stephen Odoh emphasised the opportunity for making a Ebonyi State a clean cooking technology production hub capable of providing employment for youths in the state through the implementation of the clean cooking programme and exporting to other states nationwide.
While rendering background of the event, the Coordinator, Family Succour and Upliftment Foundation (an initiative of the Wife of the Governor, Ebonyi State), Evang. Chukwuma Elom stressed that clean cooking should be adopted both in households and educational institutions in the state to alleviate sufferings of women.
He added that the introduction of clean cooking technologies remains the best solution to the problem of rural women in the state, assuring the support of the Family Succour and Upliftment Foundation to drive the project.
Cooking with firewood or charcoal leads to serious health problems like acute lower respiratory infection in children. It causes chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease and lung cancer.
Smoke from the kitchen in Nigeria leads to 78,000 premature deaths and about 55 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents are emitted from the same source.