Overview

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.

The youngest children, especially babies strapped to mother’s back, spend their days and nights close to the fire. From an early age they become so accustomed to smoke that they will not move out of it even given easy opportunity to do so.

Benefits of the stove:

  1. Reduces fuel use by over 50%
  2. Tier 4 stove in all categories
  3. Stove cost on $15
  4. Produces charcoal that can be sold or used

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.

Our Approach

ASSP is addressing HAP as a cross-cutting strategy to reduce morbidity and mortality among women and children under five, the most vulnerable cohort. By introducing and promoting clean cookstove technology, ASSP is:

  • Reducing total population exposure to HAP with the consequent health benefits.
  • Reducing fuel requirements at the household level.
  • Increasing wealth by freeing resources currently used to acquire fuel for cooking.
  • Reducing the pressure on forest resources in the DRC.

Key Achievements

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.