One third of the global population or 2.6 billion people worldwide still remain without access to clean cooking, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has revealed.
Shedding further light on the extent of the problem, the WHO in a new data released on the use of different types of fuels used for cooking at global, regional and country levels stressed that, without rapid action to scale up clean cooking, the world will fall short of its goal to achieve universal access to clean cooking by 2030.
This buttresses previous findings that points to the of inefficient, polluting fuels and technologies as a health risk that is contributing majorly to diseases and deaths, particularly for women and children in low- and middle-income countries. This makes cooking with polluting fuels one of the largest environmental contributors to ill health.
This is also as the smoke produced from cooking with polluting fuels can lead to heart diseases, stroke, cancers, chronic lung diseases and pneumonia. Unfortunately, millions of people continue to die prematurely every year from household air pollution, which is produced by cooking with inefficient stoves and devices paired withwood, coal, charcoal, dung, crop waste and kerosene.
According to new data published in WHO’s Air Pollution Data Portal on January, the use of clean and polluting fuels for cooking by fuel type, access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking is distributed unevenly across the globe. According to the data, the rate of access to clean cooking fuels and technologies only increased by about 1.0% per year from 2010-2019.
Much of this increase, according to the global health body was due to improvements in clean cooking access in the five most populous low- and middle-income countries – Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and Pakistan; the rate in other low- and middle-income countries has seen little change.
In the new data published in its Global Health Observatory including detailed global, regional and country estimates of the percentages and number of people using polluting or clean fuels between 1990 and 2020 with a focus on six fuel types: electricity, gaseous fuels, kerosene, biomass, charcoal, and coal. The data also include urban versus rural disaggregation, the number of people mainly using polluting fuels for cooking declined from more than half of the global population in 1990 to 36% in 2020.
“While gaseous cooking fuels dominate in urban areas, biomass fuels are still common in rural populations,” the WHO stated in a January 20 report on the new data published on its website.
In that report, the agency stated that the reliance on electricity for cooking is growing in urban contexts.
Current estimates project that one third of the global population will continue to use polluting fuels in 2030, with the majority residing in Sub-Saharan Africa.
WHO’s Air Quality and Health Unit is supporting countries to address household air pollution by providing normative guidance, tools and advice to tackle the issue . The unit also monitors and reports on global trends and changes in health impacts of air pollution at national, regional and global levels. Such estimates are used for official reporting like the World Health Statistics, and the Sustainable Development Goals.