5 September 2012

Nigeria: 'Inhaling Indoor Cooking Smoke Responsible for 1.6 Million Deaths Annually'

Pollution from indoor cooking smoke in the country, has led to the demise of many people, especially women and children, Mr Ayodeji Ifegbesan, an environmentalist, said on Wednesday.

Ifegbesan stated this at a stakeholder workshop organised by an NGO, Initiative For Environmental Education, in collaboration with the UNDP and Global Environmental Facility, in Odogbawojo in Eredo Local Council Development area of Lagos state.

The theme of the workshop is "Household Cook Stoves, Environment, Climate Change and Health : What Connection? "

According to him, 1.6 million deaths recorded each year of mostly women and children, could be attributed to diseases resulting from inhaling smoke from open cooking stoves.

He explained that smoke from open cooking fire is associated with a number of diseases such as respiratory illness, cancer, asthma, blindness and heart disease, among others.

"The dependence of poor households on traditional energy for cooking, such as biomass and fuel wood, increases indoor air pollution which in turn exposes the household members to health risk.

"Women and children in developing countries are exposed each day to pollution from indoor cooking smoke in the form of small particles, up to 20 times higher than the maximum recommended of the world health organisation.

"Children are especially vulnerable; indeed strong evidence support the causal linkages between biomass combustion emissions and acute respiratory infection among children."

Apart from the health problems, Ifegbesan explained that the wide spread use of fuel has been linked to a number of environmental problems such as deforestation, climate change and land degradation.

These environmental problems, he said, problems have detrimental consequences for livelihood, security and sustainability.

"In Nigeria, the vast majority of the populace depend on forest resources in meeting their various household energy uses.

"According to FAO research, Nigeria lost 81 per cent of its old growth forest in just 15 years as a result of uncontrolled subsistence agriculture and collection of fire wood, " he said.

Ifegbesan, however, suggested that 'wood efficient stove' which would reduce smoke inhalation with significant health benefits as well as reducing green house gas emission, deforestation and providing a host of other benefits, should be encouraged.

"The state and local government should set up a technical team to task with a fuel efficient stove extension programme and work with government to enhance its technical capacities and maintain government's policy in this regard, " he said.


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