Globally, 3 billion people rely on rudimentary cooking fuels. These include kerosene, biomass such as dung and crop waste, and wood-base fuels such as firewood and charcoal. In Africa, 80% of people rely on wood-based fuels as a primary cooking fuel source. Reliance on these causes major health risks such as lung cancer and pneumonia, that result in the premature deaths of 3.8 million people every year. In our partner city, Beira (Mozambique), over 27% of households have reported respiratory problems due to charcoal cooking from 2014-19.
The main reason why wood-based fuels are so harmful is the lack of full combustion when burning as carbon monoxide and particulates are present in high concentrations in the smoke produced. Poor ventilation in household cooking spaces exacerbates the problem, often affecting the entire family. Improved cook-stoves are being successfully introduced into communities to decrease the amount of toxic smoke produced, but this doesn't get rid of the problem completely, and the majority of people don't yet got access to these.
Alternative gas-based fuels have been proven to be significantly less harmful as complete combustion is easily achieved. However in low-income high-density communities, these are very limited. LPG is barely available, and when it is, it is extremely expensive - upwards of ten times the price of charcoal. Biogas has seen a very positive uptake in our communities, but traditional systems are very costly and require a large footprint. Since space is a valuable commodity in the communities we are working with, our compact, portable solution is ideal.