An Indian firm in partnership with Multimedia University has embarked on an ambitious plan to distribute over 10 million improved jikos to poor households across the 47 counties from December as part of the efforts to tackle climate change.
The first beneficiary counties of the plan by EnKing International county will be Kajiado where 279, 460 cookstoves will be distributed, followed by Kwale County where 216, 703 will be distributed then the firm will move to Wajir where 195, 316 poor households are targeted.
After the piloting with the three counties, the distribution will proceed to Busia where 223,420 cooking stoves will be given out followed by Narok where 289,468 will be given out then Migori-279,109 which will county before proceeding to Kisii County where 316,715 cooking stoves have been earmarked for distribution before going to other counties.
The improved cooking stoves according to Rajiv Sharma, manager business development, use less firewood compared to the normal Jikos hence will prevent cutting down of more trees by households leading to conservation of forests.
“Our project targets to improve the life of rural households as well as playing a significant role in stopping deforestation, indoor pollution and reducing energy needs,” Mr Sharma said.
The improved cooking stoves which have been assembled locally in the Industrial Area has lower self-heat consumption, produces less smoke and also reduces less smoke thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions over its lifetime.
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Speaking during the launch of the project, at the University in Rongai, Kajiado County, Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Soipan Tuya through her representative Julius Kamau lauded climate change is a global problem with grave environmental, social, economic and political implications
“It is important to note that 70 percent of our energy demands biomass against a wood deficit of 10 million tonnes. This will hit 15 million tonnes by 2030. Hence, there is a need for more effort towards alternative fuels, which can easily be developed from biomass waste — such as biomass pellets and briquettes,” Ms Tuya said.
“We need more of such partnerships to increase uptake of clean cooking technology in Kenya while at the same time empowering our students with the skills to help fight the effects of climate change,” she added.
Statistics from the World Health Organization indicate that household air pollution causes more than 15,000 deaths and an equal number of respiratory health complications yearly in Kenya, with women and children bearing the brunt.
A research published in March 2020 in the journal of Annals of Global Health, talks about the dangers of using firewood as a means of cooking.
The research found that being exposed to very high levels of pollutants in wood smoke from use of wood fuels such as firewood and charcoal for domestic cooking needs, is associated with a number of disease outcomes, especially respiratory diseases in women and children under five years of age.
Ms Tuya said every step taken in caring for the environment is worth recognizing.
“We all recognize that the issues informing global geopolitics and commerce, climate change and the dilemma of biofuels have a special place. The catastrophic effects of climate change that are being felt across the globe, including by close to 43 million people in East Africa, calls for immediate action,” Ms Tuya said.
“This is why Kenya joined other world leaders at the 27th Climate Conference dubbed COP27 in Egypt to discuss climate change matters,” Ms Tuya added
Currently, statistics indicate that around 2.6 Billion people uses polluted biomass cook stoves
Statistics also indicate that Over 3.8 million people a year die prematurely from illness attributable to the household air pollution caused by the inefficient use of solid fuels and kerosene for cooking.
Speaking during the event Kajiado County Chief Executive Committee in charge of water, environment, natural resources and climate change Leina Mpoke said the initiative will help the poor household that have always borne the brunt of excessive smoke through use of firewood.
“This is a technology that speaks to the heart.Im happy that we are going to save our women and girls because the jikos are going to the smallest and poorest households in the villages,” Dr Mpoke said.
The director renewable energy research consortium at Multimedia University Dr David Wekesa said the stoves have been certified by Kenya Bureau of Standards and they have been given the ‘S’ standardization mark and are now ready to roll out the programme in counties.
“As a University we identified the gap within our communities especially with the women and one of the issues was clean cooking which affects all the counties,” Dr Wekesa said.
Statistics from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) indicates that only six percent per cent of Kenya’s over nine million households can afford electric or LPG cookers.
The rest depend on biomass-combustion jikos. These are the common jikos or hearths that mainly use firewood or charcoal and are mostly highly inefficient in combustion and heat preservation.