Energy aid neglects 'health emergency' fuelled by dirty cooking

(Reuters News, 21 Oct 2019) Paltry sums of international funding are being allocated to help poor families cook with modern, clean methods, exposing them to deadly household air pollution.

Governments, development banks and businesses are providing less than 1% of the money needed each year to wean 3 billion people off dirty, health-harming cooking by an international deadline of 2030, new data on energy access showed on Tuesday.

In 2017, the latest figures available, funding commitments for clean cooking in 20 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia with the largest needs plummeted by 73%, to $32 million, from the average in the previous two years, found a report tracking finance towards global goals on energy.

An annual investment of $4.4 billion is required to move to modern cooking methods the nearly 40% of the world's people who still use traditional fuels such as wood, charcoal, dung or kerosene, often in smoky indoor environments, researchers said.

The World Health Organization estimates that household air pollution kills about 4 million people each year, many of them women and children, through ailments such as heart and lung disease and cancer.

Olivia Coldrey, lead finance specialist with Sustainable Energy for All, a U.N.-linked body that co-produced the report, highlighted a "continued lack of global effort" to tackle low access to less-polluting fuels and more efficient stoves.

"This is really an environmental and public health emergency," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, noting that investment in cleaner cooking was "orders of magnitude away from what it needs to be".

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Reuters News, 21 Oct 2019: Energy aid neglects 'health emergency' fuelled by dirty cooking