Tuesday, November 24

Cooking is a risk for almost half of Latin Americans | Economy

A woman uses firewood to cook in Chiapas, Mexico.
A woman uses firewood to cook in Chiapas, Mexico.Jessica Belmont / World Bank.

How many people in the world cook daily with firewood, kerosene, waste or manure? How many people, mainly women, stop working because they spend most of their day collecting fuel for cooking and because they do not have efficient cooking technologies? How many people can pay for clean fuel? How many get sick from the air they breathe at home? 300 million? 1000 million? 2000 million people? Do you already have a number in mind?

Let’s see if you got close: almost half of the world’s population, 4 billion people, of low and middle income, cannot cook with clean technologies and fuels, in an efficient, safe, affordable and convenient way. According to the report State of access to means of cooking with modern energies (in English) of the World Bank’s Energy Sector Management Assistance Program, 1.25 billion of these people are transitioning to modern energy services for cooking, but 2.75 billion are a long way from it.

The annual increase in access to clean cooking fuels and technologies was only 0.8 percentage points on average between 2010 and 2018, according to the report (2020) of progress of Sustainable Development Goal 7, which seeks people’s access to energy by 2030.

World Bank experts suggest that the adoption of modern energy services for cooking goes beyond stove efficiency and fuel emissions, which has historically been emphasized. These attributes need to be measured in relation to:

· The experience of cooking at home, ie exposure, who cooks, what is cooked, how, for how long and how often.

· The conditions of the dwelling, for example, the location of the kitchen, layout and size, construction materials and quality of ventilation.

· The economic conditions in terms of family income and the money that must be invested in fuels and stoves.

· The availability of fuels and technologies in local markets.

The convenience or how long it takes people to get the fuel and prepare the stoves

· Safety.

It depends on all this that people adopt a clean combination of stove and fuel.

Understanding this environment can help decision makers to be better informed, to formulate appropriate policies, according to each context, to accelerate solutions.

Taking these parameters into account, sub-Saharan Africa is the region that suffers the most since 90% of the population lacks access. In East Asia, the figure is 64%, while in Latin America and the Caribbean, almost half of the people, 44%, do not have improved cooking services. This translates into a high impact in terms of health, productivity and gender equality, climate change and the environment.

Smoke and covid-19

According to the World Health Organization, exposure to polluted air in homes caused almost 4 million deaths in 2016 in low- and middle-income countries, representing 6.7% of total mortality. This type of pollution is also associated with lung cancer, cerebrovascular, heart and respiratory diseases, conditions that make the recovery of patients with covid-19 more complex.

Although some aspects differ from region to region, specialists agree that women bear the greatest losses in terms of health, safety and productivity: they, including girls, can spend up to six hours between collecting or buying fuel, cooking and cleaning kitchens, limiting your opportunities to study or have a job. And when they go to collect the fuel they also risk being victims of sexual violence.

Not investing enough to combat the lack of access to modern kitchen solutions is costing the world $ 2.4 trillion a year, 16 times what it would cost to fix: achieving universal access would require $ 150 billion per year by 2030 This investment would merit the efforts of the public sector, so that modern energy solutions are available to the poorest; from the private sector, to invest in the necessary infrastructure, and from families to purchase fuel and stoves.

Latin America and the Caribbean: cities vs rural areas

In the region, the cost of lack of access to modern energy for cooking amounts to 86 billion dollars per year: 21 billion in health losses; $ 59 billion in gender equity costs and $ 6 billion in climate and environmental impacts. The transition to better modern energy services for cooking would require an investment in Latin America of $ 53 billion over the next 10 years.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, 56% of the population has modern energy services for cooking. It is the developing region with the greatest access. The most benefited segments are predominantly urban: 49% of this population lives in cities and only 7% lives in rural areas.

Of the 44% of the population that lacks access, 15% have severe barriers to achieving it, especially in rural areas; while 29% are in transition to have improved cooking services, mainly in cities. This percentage is higher than that of the rest of the regions studied, which represents a good opportunity to ensure that the majority of the population has access.

In the cities of the region, more than 80% of the people use gas as their main fuel for cooking. In rural areas, almost 50% use firewood as their primary fuel.

The parallel use of several cooking fuels and stoves in the same home is a significant challenge. Households that have already adopted modern fuels tend to use several fuels for socio-cultural customs and to minimize availability risks. For example: between 1974 and 2016, Ecuador moved substantially away from wood as its main fuel and replaced it with liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). Even so, 44% of households supplement the use of LPG with firewood, at least once a day.

The follow-up report on Development Goal 7 indicates that Chile, Argentina and Uruguay are the countries with the largest number of populations with access to clean fuels and stoves in the region, while the least have Haiti (with less than 25%) , Guatemala and Nicaragua. Between 2014 and 2018, the countries in the region that registered the fastest growth in this regard were El Salvador and Peru, with an increase of 2 percentage points per year on average.

In Central America, firewood represented close to 80% of final energy consumption in households in 2018.

Income continues to be a key driver in demand for fuels and stoves. The segments of the population with more income tend to use more clean fuels, while the poorest tend to use more polluting energy sources.

Given the current scenario, specialists recommend that countries formally include the demand for modern energy for cooking in national energy planning strategies and agree that these strategies must take into account the different users and their needs, local markets and the energy potential of each country. In addition, they propose to increase funding and create pacts among high-profile political leaders to prioritize the achievement of this Sustainable Development Goal.

In this sense, one of the initiatives to boost political commitment and financing is ESMAP’s Clean Kitchen Fund, announced in 2019, which will mobilize 500 million dollars to achieve access for more people to better services to cook cleanly. , efficient, safe, convenient and affordable.

Over the past 11 years, the World Bank has participated in more than one ten programs to promote the use of clean stoves in various countries of the region, such as Peru, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua.

Marjorie Delgado is an online producer for the World Bank

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