Two civil society organisations have embraced a campaign to address worrisome issues related to the use of wood fuel for cooking.
Approximately 127 million people and more than 24 million households in Nigeria cook the traditional way: depending solely on wood as a source of fuel, a method widely described as a silent killer.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), cooking smoke causes 95,300 deaths in the country annually. In fact, Nigeria is said to experience the highest number of smoke-related deaths in Africa; the third after Malaria and HIV/AIDS.
Observers believe that traditional cooking with wood is expensive, costing poor families money that could be put to better use on education, health and nutrition. The trend also causes deforestation and climate change, burning up to 90% more wood than is necessary, they reason.
There is, however, a growing momentum for change in the nation.
Indeed, the clamour is now for the use of cooking gas and clean cookstoves, which experts say save lives, money, forests and empowers women.
Consequently, the Federal Executive Council last November approved a whopping N9,087,250 for the procurement of cookstoves and wonderbags by the Ministry of Environment.
But, in a bid to ensure that the government incentive achieves the purposes meant for, Connected Development (CODE), via its “Follow The Money” initiative, has started monitoring activities around the money meant to procure and distribute some 750,000 clean cookstoves and 18,000 wonderbags.
Chief Executive of CODE, Hamzat Lawal, said in Abuja on Wednesday: “As part of our strategies to make sure this incentive gets to and impacts thousands of rural women that it is meant for within the stipulated time frame, we have sent out a request for information, according to the Freedom of Information Act, to the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Special Duties and the Integra Renewable Energy Limited (the procurement contractor), seeking for the work plan and beneficiaries of this incentive. We hope they will respond within seven days as stipulated by law in the 2011 Freedom of Information Act.”
According to Lawal, the group will build a large evidence base for the campaign on the Follow The Money website “that hopes to update every stakeholder and citizens of Nigeria and the world at large on how these funds translate in concrete terms and benefit rural women in the country.”
Similarly, the Nigerian Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, as part of moves to strengthen the supply chain for clean cooking energy solutions in the country, will in the last week of this month in Abuja hold a Clean Cooking Energy Expo and Conference.
The two-day event will likewise support the development of an enabling environment for expanding the market for clean cookstoves and cleaner fuels; create demand for cleaner fuels and stoves; bring together policy makers, suppliers, retailers and consumers of clean energy value chain; and, display the diversity in the product range available in the Nigerian market.
The forum, it was gathered, will comprise sessions covering topics such as: Creating an enabling environment for the growth of the clean cookstoves market; Strengthening the supply chain for the LPG market; The role of the government in expanding the market for efficient biomass stoves; Facilitating finance for clean cookstoves market growth; Enabling clean cooking energy industrialisation; and, Enhancing Demand.
Key participants will include policymakers, business leaders, stove producers, distributors, retailers and consumers, banks and financial institutions, NGOs, donors and CSR partners.
The Alliance is a public-private partnership established to introduce 10 million clean cookstoves to Nigerian homes and institutions by 2020. It supports policy change, better technical standards and innovative financing in the development of a national clean cookstove industry. Since its launch in 2012, Alliance partners have sold nearly 2 million clean cooking energy solutions, built market development partnerships with states, finance companies and investors; and established a clean cooking energy laboratory.
Despite these achievements however, the market for clean cookstoves in Nigeria is still considered undeveloped, stemming chiefly from both policy and market failures: a lack of awareness about the benefits of clean fuels and stoves; weak government policies; poorly developed supply chain for LPG; insufficient access to finance; and poor coordination along the value chain.