How one appliance can saves lives, empower women, and reduce pollution in the developing world.
Nearly every mother’s daily routine includes making meals for her children no matter where on this planet she happens to live. In the U.S., we have a range of easy, efficient appliances to choose from when preparing a meal – stovetop, oven, or a microwave, not to mention a variety of pre-packaged ready meals. But in many developing countries, where there is no access to power or not enough money to buy an appliance, cooking often entails the most basic of instruments – an open flame and a makeshift stove. These are not only difficult to manage; they are dangerous, bad for the environment and a major global health problem that demands urgent attention.
Currently, three billion people in the world use inefficient stoves to cook their food. World Health Organization data shows indoor air pollution kills two million people every year and even more are harmed by accidents. In fact, indoor air pollution is the fourth biggest health risk in developing countries.
Not surprisingly, women experience many of the direct health effects of inefficient stoves, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema, cardiovascular disease and lung cancer, to name a few. All painful and debilitating diseases and afflictions. Young children and fetuses are also particularly vulnerable. The World Health Organization estimates that half of all deaths among children under five from acute lower respiratory infections are due to indoor air pollution from household fuels, such as wood, manure and coal.
In addition to the health effects, the hours that women and children spend collecting fuel for these stoves is time they could be spending bettering themselves through education and even developing small businesses for additional household income. Getting ahead.
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