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World Bank Highlights Findings of Papers on Efforts to Foster Options for Clean Cooking

World Bank6 August 2013: Coinciding with its new Energy Sector Directions Paper that pledges to “expand engagement in clean cooking and heating solutions,” the World Bank has brought attention to common findings of recent Bank publications on failures of past efforts to foster change towards cleaner cooking methods.

In a press release that highlights the need to tailor activities to specific contexts, the Bank brings together conclusions from recent papers on clean cooking in Central America, Lao PDR, and Indonesia. Noting that “A typical wood fire is about 400 cigarettes an hour worth of smoke,” the press release notes that these studies consistently highlighted that: there is a lack of household awareness that cooking smoke can cause respiratory illness and shorten lives; dirty sources of biomass are often cheap or free and easily accessible; and cleaner, safer cooking options have to date not been available, affordable or sustainable.

It claims that, for these reasons, previous short-term projects and incentives to promote improved cookstoves have proven unsuccessful. On solutions to these problems, World Bank economist Yabei Zhang states that “Women are using unsafe cookstoves or open fires because they are conveniently available, affordable and adapted to the types of food they prepare. Clean cooking solutions need to meet those same criteria to be successful.” This, the Bank concludes, is only possible if solutions are tailored to the specific context under consideration. It highlights that the Bank is undertaking work in this vein via the Clean Stove Initiative, the Africa Clean Cooking Energy Solutions Initiative, and the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. [World Bank press release] [IISD Reporting Services story on World Bank Energy Sector Directions Paper]