Open fires can create poisonous household environments.
Open fires can create poisonous household environments.

Cleaner air for the poorest homes

Around four million people die every year from pollution caused by their only means of household cooking - an open fire. The deaths are a result of three billion people across Africa, Asia and Latin America cooking in their homes using wood, charcoal and even animal dung as fuel. Open fires producing soot and greenhouse gases damage the health of families - especially women and children – but also the environment. Searching for fuels also uses up valuable time that could be spent earning a better living or attending school.

But bright ideas are aiming to change all that. The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves is a unique initiative working to create a self-sufficient global market for cleaner and more efficient stoves for cooking and heating by supporting local entrepreneurs and stimulating demand for cleaner cooking solutions. It also aims to raise awareness of the ways these stoves can reduce fuel use, cooking time and loss of life.

A family and their cleaner, safer cookstove
A family and their cleaner, safer cookstove

Since 2010, Shell has committed $13 million to help the Alliance reach their goal of clean cookstoves in 100 million homes by 2020. 

Next to that global partnership, the Shell Foundation, an independent charity set up to tackle global development challenges, joined forces with Envirofit International to design and produce cleaner-burning stoves. Not only are the Envirofit stoves more affordable, but they can cut cooking times by 50%, reduce smoke and toxic emissions by up to 80% and use up to 60% less fuel than traditional stoves.

This allows many users to cover the cost of the stove – typically between $15 and $30 – within a few months just through the fuel they save. Now that, we think, is truly a breath of fresh air.

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