Rafiqul Islam, UNB Staff Writer
Dhaka – As part of government target to distribute 30 million improved cook stoves by 2030, some 70,000 improved stoves have been installed in the country’s coastal region, aiming to reduce household air pollution and cope with climate change impacts.
“These cook stoves have been distributed under a project – Installation of 70,000 Improved Cook stoves in Selected Areas of Bangladesh,” said Dr Animesh Sarkar, the chief executive director of Bangladesh Bondhu Foundation.
The Department of Environment (DoE) took the project with financial support from the Indian government and the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ).Bangladesh Bondhu Foundation implemented the project in eight upazilas in the coastal region — Sandwip, Moheshkhali, Ukhia, Rangunia, Char Fasson, Bhandaria, Tungipara and Kotalipara -– during September 2015 – November 2016.
The government set a target to distribute clean cook stoves among five million households by 2017 and 30 million by 2030.
DoE additional director general Quazi Sarwar Imtiaz Hashmi said steps will be taken to distribute more improved and green cook stoves among rural women to check indoor air pollution and protect their health.
He said the DoE is now distributing single burner cook stove at Tk 800 while double burner stove at Tk 1200 but it is also giving incentives to rural households so that they feel encouraged to use green stoves.
According to DoE officials, about 90 percent of households burn traditional fuels like wood, jute sticks, agricultural waste, cow-dung for cooking, and use inefficient and poorly ventilated clay stoves that produce smoke, carbon monoxide, and carcinogens. And the particulate pollution level of traditional cook stoves may be 20 times higher than accepted guidelines.
The women who cook using these stoves and their small children are exposed to these high levels of toxins for three to seven hours a day.
A new Unicef report – ‘Clear the air for children: The impact of air pollution on children’ – that released on October 31, 2016, reveals that over 8,500 children die every year in the country from diseases caused by household air pollution.
Bangladesh has one of the largest burdens of child mortality associated with indoor air pollution. The reasons for relatively limited uptake of improved cook stoves to date include a lack of awareness of health risks associated with the household air pollution, higher costs compared to traditional cook stoves and competing development priorities, the report says.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that 46,000 women and children die each year in Bangladesh as a direct result of exposure to indoor air pollution, while millions more suffer from respiratory diseases, tuberculosis, asthma, cardiovascular disease, eye problems, and lung cancer.
A WHO expert says children suffer most from the respiratory diseases such as emphysema, bronchitis and asthma due to indoor air pollution, but their brain development is also hit hard by inhaling the polluted air.
“Moving to a higher energy ladder, using cleaner and more efficient fuel will reduce indoor air pollution. However, it is more costly,” said Bidya Banmali Pradhan, an associate coordinator (Atmosphere Initiative) of Katmandu-based think tank International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD).
Biomass fuel is still considered free fuel in many rural areas and by far the most utilised primary energy source in developing countries, she said, adding that thus improving the existing cook stoves by burning biomass more efficiently and reducing smoke will be the immediate solution to limit negative health effects.
The ICIMOD scientist said fan-assisted biomass stove is found to be efficient both in terms of fuel consumption and pollutant emitted.
“Keeping the health and environment factors in view, the high cost of the fan-assisted stoves requires subsidy from government and access to technology and after-sale services to disseminate them among poor rural people,” Bidya said. – UNB
Rafiqul Islam, UNB Staff Writer