3 July 2019

Clean cooking in Sub-Saharan Africa

Without huge efforts, around 700 million people (more than 80%) in Sub-Saharan Africa will still cook on traditional biomass in 2030. Phasing out traditional biomass has strong benefits for human health, biodiversity and the climate and can lead to reduced cooking costs. Although many projects for clean cooking are being initiated, the developments cannot keep up with population growth. The UN is therefore calling for clean cooking to be made a political priority.

Policy options and pathways for change

A new study by PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency explored various policy options and pathways for a transition away from the use of fuelwood and charcoal for cooking in Sub-Saharan Africa. It also describes their implications for costs, child health, biodiversity and greenhouse gas emissions.

One of their conclusions is that there is not one solution. “Preferred combinations of cooking fuels and technologies may differ per community, and are based on income, biomass availability and/or proximity to markets. Improved and advanced biomass cookstoves could play an important role in providing cleaner cooking options as an interim solution for the poorest households, mostly in rural areas.

In the longer term, biogas could meet a considerable part of the cooking energy demand, because of the abundance of biomass resources, including dung and agricultural residues. LPG, natural gas and electricity are attractive options, as they have the highest health benefits, especially for urban areas, but also in rural areas – and certainly once traditional biomass use will have been phased out completely.

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