Energy ministry pushes adoption of clean cooking solutions

Cooking with firewood.

Cooking with firewood. The Energy ministry wants this stopped alongside the use of paraffin and charcoal. 

Photo credit: Pool

The government is stepping up efforts to accelerate the adoption of modern clean cooking technologies to mitigate the effects of climate change and reduce cases of diseases caused by dirty cooking fuels.

The Ministry of Energy and Petroleum is working on a National Clean Cooking Strategy to keep Kenya on track to achieving its target of universal access to clean energy by 2028.

The strategy is meant to improve Kenyans’ access to improved transitional and clean cooking solutions.

The solutions include climate-friendly efficient biomass stoves and a fuel switch from solid biomass and kerosene to cleaner and environmentally friendly options such as biogas, bioethanol, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), solar photovoltaic (PV) and electric cooking.

Modern cooking stoves are highly efficient and can reduce fuel use by up to 60 percent, resulting in fewer emissions of greenhouse gases.

Recent studies also show that the most advanced cook stoves and fuels can reduce black carbon emissions by up to 90 per cent, with well-managed woodlots producing sustainable wood fuel and thus reducing carbon emissions.

The ministry is setting up a delivery unit to implement the strategy, Energy Cabinet Secretary Davis Chirchir said during the recent third annual Clean Cooking Week.

“Overreliance on open fires and traditional cook stoves and fuels is one of the most pressing health and environmental problems that call for urgent action,” he said in a speech read on his behalf by Energy Principal Secretary retired Maj-Gen Gordon Kihalangwa.

“It is the reason we have identified clean cooking as a national development priority by setting the target to achieve universal access to modern cooking energy services by 2028.” 

Some 59 per cent of households in Kenya use traditional fireplaces for cooking, while only 30 per cent have access to clean cooking solutions.

The strategy is being developed with technical assistance from Climate Compatible Growth (CCG), UK Partnering for Accelerated Climate Transitions, Modern Energy Cooking Services, GIZ-Energising Development (Endev) and Agence Francaise de Developpement.

The Ministry of Health estimates that about 23,000 deaths in Kenya are attributed to household air pollution annually.

Indoor air pollution disproportionately affects women and children who spend extended time looking for fuel and cooking meals, thereby bearing the brunt of exposure to long hours of smoky kitchen environments.

Clean Cooking Week, now in its third year, is organised annually by the Clean Cooking Association of Kenya (CCAK) and the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum to help Kenya achieve its ambitious target of universal access to clean energy by 2028.

The theme for this year’s event was “Transforming the Enabling Environment to Achieve Universal Access to Clean Cooking by 2028”.

CCAK chairman Jechoniah Kitala underscored the need for all players in the clean cooking sector to fast-track the transition to clean cooking solutions.

“The solution lies in addressing underlying systemic constraints through a multi-actor approach which brings everyone on board. It cannot be done by individual companies, development partners or even the government alone,” said Mr Kitala.

He said CCAK has made significant progress in championing access to modern clean cooking energy services by stimulating demand, strengthening supply and fostering an enabling environment.

Over the last 10 years, Kenya has witnessed increased production capacity to industrial scale, better quality assurance in the market, innovative business models and enhanced knowledge management.

The Energy ministry in July launched the Behaviour Change and Communications Strategy to promote clean cooking by creating awareness on the benefits of adopting improved cooking solutions. This is expected to result in increased uptake of the solutions at the household, institutional and small and medium enterprise levels.

It is envisioned that increased uptake and use of clean cooking solutions will result in additional climate change adaptation benefits such as a reduction in biomass degradation, improved health benefits and an increase in household incomes.