WHO   |   2010
Type: Research Report
Topic: Environment/Climate, Livelihoods
Country: Global
All over the developing world, meals are cooked and homes are treated with homemade traditional stoves or open fires. These stoves are fired with either biomass fuels, such as wood, branches, twigs or dung, or coal. When these are not available, agricultural residues or even leaves and grass are used. The smoke emitted from such stoves is made up of particles and gaseous chemicals. It is estimated that as many as 70% of households in developing countries use fuels such as wood, dung and crop residues for cooking (International Energy Agency, 2002; WHO, 2006). The seemingly ‘free’ availability of biomass fuels from nature makes them the primary fuel source for household purposes. The problems related to the use of biomass as an energy source have been an issue of concern for more than three decades. The traditional stoves commonly used for burning biomass energy have long been found to be highly inefficient and to emit copious quantities of smoke due to the incomplete combustion of fuels. This inefficiency has also had consequences on the environment, since intense collection of fuelwood has resulted in deforestation in highly populated areas. The use of such fuels has also adversely affected health. In addition, the cost involved in terms of human energy and time required to collect and process such fuel has serious implications for productivity and gender equity.