In a new report, the World Health Organization has spoken about the dangers of cooking with firewood, saying over 98,000 women died yearly from exposure to firewood smoke.
“If a woman cooks breakfast, lunch and dinner, it is equivalent to smoking between three and 20 packets of cigarette a day. The death from this sector contributes to 10 per cent of global annual death and it is bigger than tuberculosis, HIV and AIDS and malaria combined, and it is only killing women,” an official of the Federal Ministry of Environment, Ms Bahijjahtu Abubakar, who is the National Coordinator, Renewable Energy Programme, told newsmen at the official launch of RUWES and the 4th Annual Nigeria Renewable Energy Day in Abuja on Wednesday.
She said there was so much energy poverty in Nigeria, especially in the rural areas in a country that was blessed with abundant energy resources and that there was no way Nigeria would be contributing 10 per cent to global annual death without addressing it. According to her, the ministry has just launched a Rural Women Energy Security (RUWES) programme to prevent the trend and to create awareness on the dangers of using dirty energy.
She said: “We are reaching out to faith-based organisations such as the Federation of Muslim women and the Catholic Women Organisation. We hope through the market women organisation and all the professionals that are women- based, we are reaching out to every nook and cranny of Nigeria.”
On the affordability of the cooking stoves provided under RUWES, she said it would be a single digit interest rate for the facilities.
“The women have two years to pay back. All they need is to belong to cooperative and they are given lighting, cooking and heating solution facility to use. A woman can get a stove and pay over seven months and we know that the poorest woman will be able to afford it.”