Promotion of climate-friendly cooking in Kenya

Data from the Kenya Household Cooking Sector Study 2019 shows that about 7.3 million households use the Three Stone Open Fire (TSOF), compared to about 4.7 million two decades ago. Thus, instead of more Kenyans adopting clean cooking, a bigger number is still stuck with this traditional mode. This not only contributes to an increase in the country’s greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions, but also jeopardises the health of many.

Moreover, approximately 70 per cent of households in Kenya still use a type of woodstove as either their primary or secondary cooking stove, with a greater prevalence of 92 percent in rural areas.

Solid biomass remains a common source of energy in Kenya, used by an estimated 68 per cent of households. Therefore, Kenya needs to rapidly expand accessible clean cooking solutions, given that only 30 per cent of rural households and 54 per cent of urban dwellers currently use clean cooking technologies and fuels.

This is the current situation even as Kenya aims at an ambitious target of achieving 100 per cent universal access to modern clean cooking solutions by 2028, as a commitment to contribute to Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7) and the Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) agenda.

Additionally, as a country, Kenya has committed to reducing its greenhouse gases by 32 per cent by 2030. Household cooking using firewood, charcoal, and kerosene is a major contributor to Kenya’s GHG emissions.

These national targets are yet to be realised due to a number of factors, including: Lack of an enabling environment; low access to finance for both businesses and consumers; and lack of affirmative policies to support the accessibility, availability, and use of improved cooking technologies. For example, value-added tax on improved cookstoves and LPG negates the drive to promote clean cooking, as more people need to be encouraged to adopt these solutions.

More than 38 million people in Kenya (or 80 per cent of the population) are at risk of household air pollution due to the use of solid fuels. Indoor air pollution causes approximately 21,560 deaths per year. This figure is seven times the average number of deaths caused by road accidents.

Women and children are the most vulnerable to indoor air pollution caused by dirty cooking methods because they spend the most time in the kitchen.

Last year, the World Bank indicated that Kenya’s adoption of clean cooking was at 20 per cent. This is according to the Tracking SDG 7 – The Energy Progress Report.

Thus, more households should be enabled to adopt clean cooking for Kenya to meet its 2028 universal energy access target and mitigate climate change. This will also help reduce the diseases and deaths caused by indoor air pollution and release girls and women from the burden of collecting firewood for cooking needs, especially in rural Kenya.

Rural women and girls are disproportionately affected by the burden of looking for firewood over long distances. Girls do so at the expense of their education, whereas women lose opportunities for social and economic development when they invest a lot of time in fetching firewood.

This means the country needs to intensify public awareness campaigns expounding the benefits of clean cooking solutions that include a variety of improved cooking stoves and fuels (LPG, biogas and bioethanol, among others). Kenya should also craft and implement policies that promote the uptake of clean cooking technology and fuel.

The GCF/EnDev Project: Implementing an innovative Improved Cookstoves market transformation strategy

The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Green Climate Fund (GCF), and Kenya’s Ministry of Energy (MoE), are co-financing the implementation of an innovative Improved Cookstoves (ICS) market transformation strategy in Kenya. The strategy further involves improving global knowledge about the significance of the ICS sector to Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

The project will significantly increase the number of ICS users in Kenya, particularly in the peri-urban and rural areas. It is aimed at creating self-sustaining ICS markets, leading to substantial climate change mitigation impacts in Kenya, i.e., direct project lifetime GHG emission reductions of 5.3 Mt of CO2eq. The project will also enable a total of 1.6 million households to adopt ICS, hence benefiting approximately eight million people.

It is worth noting that in July this year, Kenya’s Ministry of Energy, in partnership with the GCF/EnDev Project, launched a Behaviour Change and Communication (BCC) strategy for promoting clean cooking, which aims at increasing awareness of the benefits of clean cooking and encouraging the uptake of improved cooking solutions.

This represents a step forward towards 100 percent universal access to modern cooking solutions, and will in turn help create a self-sustainable market for ICS. This will ricochet towards substantial climate change mitigation impacts.

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