The World Health Organization Asks: Where Are The Stoves?

The WHO published the book Air pollution and child health: prescribing clean air (2018) that concludes: “The evidence is clear: air pollution has a devastating impact on children’s health.”

The connection between the inhalation of PM 2.5 and incredibly elevated levels of ill health and death has been established. The WHO prescription is to try to clean the air being breathed.

“Globally in 2016, one in every eight deaths was attributable to the joint effects of AAP and HAP.  Some 543, 000 deaths in children under 5 years and 52, 000 deaths in children aged 5–15 years were attributed to the joint effects of AAP and HAP. Together, HAP from cooking and AAP cause more than 50% of acute lower respiratory infections (ALRI) in children under 5 years of age in LMICs.” (Lower and Middle Income Countries)

What should be done?

“Health professionals can “prescribe” solutions to air pollution-related problems, such as switching to clean household fuels and devices.” However, the WHO observes as well that “low-income families have limited options to improve the air quality in their homes. Because of market and other forces beyond their control, clean fuels and technologies may not be affordable, available, or accessible.”

Where are the stoves that protect health? What can the stove community do to help?

Hopefully, the folks with more resources can switch to cleaner burning fuels. Getting affordable, available, and accessible clean burning technologies to biomass users is also a part of the continuing challenge. We know that increasing air exchange rates, chimneys, hayboxes, and improved combustion and heat transfer efficiency in stoves, etc. can decrease concentrations of PM 2.5 in kitchens. Certainly, combining most applicable and locally effective interventions seems to make the most sense.

How much can the intervention cost? After decades of experience, ARC is pretty sure that a large market share requires a retail price of less than $10. It’s a challenge but good quality hammers cost a lot less. Availability and accessibility are happening today in worldwide markets with T-shirts, buckets, and machetes. Why not stoves?

It helps a lot if the products go “viral” like the Jiko and Rocket stoves. What it really seems to require is people who “push the river”.  Luckily, the stove community has plenty of them.

Let’s go!