Cooking in the DRC can be dangerous, inefficient and costly. Current cooking practices, which use open fires or traditional cookstoves, produce smoke and toxic fumes that contain hazardous gases and particulate matter. The smoke and fume products are collectively referred to as household air pollution. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, HAP causes serious environmental and health impacts. HAP-related illness, for example, is estimated to contribute to 75,000 deaths each year, particularly among young children. An estimated 95% of children under 5 are currently exposed to HAP on a regular basis and 15% are diagnosed with life-threatening diseases, including lung cancer and asthma. There is a lack of awareness, in both urban and rural communities, regarding the correlation between exposure to HAP and these health conditions.
Inefficient and hazardous cooking practices also impact families’ economic well-being. The heaviest burden falls on the poorest people in rural areas. Most households rely on biofuels – wood and charcoal – for cooking. In rural areas, women and girls are expected to gather and carry wood for fuel each day across many kilometers, creating higher workloads and drawing them away from other productive activities like income-generating activities and school for girls. Among the most disadvantaged households, fuel accounts for 80% of the family budget.
An estimated 95% of children under 5 are currently exposed to HAP on a regular basis and 15% are diagnosed with life-threatening diseases, including lung cancer and asthma.
IMA has completed multiple phases of stove design involving local pilots. These valuable pilots included focus group discussions and observations to determine how the design should be improved.
IMA is currently preparing to scale-up clean cookstoves in several health zones based upon these findings.