Africa: Indoor Pollution Increases Death Rate

Dar es Salaam — World Bank has warned on an increasing number of pre-mature deaths in Sub-Saharan Africa as a result of indoor air pollution and other associated health complications.

According to the World Bank, between the year 2000 and 2030, a total of 8.1 million premature deaths will occur among children and 1.7 m premature deaths among adult women in Sub Saharan Africa.

"Sadly, across Africa, access to modern energy is at best stagnant. We have to do something to rescue lives of people in this horn of Africa," Philippe Dongier, World Bank Country Director said during the Biomass Energy Initiative for Africa (BEIA) Workshop held in Dar es Salaam.

Dongier said the World Bank is well placed to move the issue of advancing biomass in Sub-Saharan Africa higher on the international development agenda.

"In some countries, access to modern energy is actually declining from its current very low level, as existing systems flounder for lack of maintenance and extensions of service fail to keep pace with population growth. As a result, Africans are shut out of the development process," he said.

According to Dongier, without access to services which commercial energy and other infrastructure provide, Africans are unable to leverage their efforts to generate surplus, to participate in markets and to grow beyond subsistence activity..

Dongier added with some expectation of wider access to modern energy, it is certain that millions of Africans will continue their reliance on traditional fuels for decades to come. More efficient uses of traditional fuels, particularly fuel wood which is commonly used to most poor Africans.

In the past biomass has not received as much attention but now, given the potential of sustainable biomass energy to contribute to poverty alleviation and sustainable management of natural resources, this form of modern energy has been given more focus in the Africa Energy Strategy.

The Minister of State, Vice President's Office (Environment) Dr. Terezya Huvisa underscored the importance of biomass in meeting energy needs to a larger proportion of households in Africa and Tanzania at large. Dr Huvisa noted Tanzanians consume more than 1 million tons of charcoal per year and that producing such quantity using conventional methods would mean increasing annual wood requirement to 125,000 hectares of forest being destroyed and degraded

It is estimated that traditional biomass fuels contribute approximately 18% of the current global greenhouse gas emissions and charcoal production emits nine tons of carbon dioxide for every ton of charcoal produced.

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