Finding a green, local solution to a deadly household chore

It’s early evening and the sun is glowing, low and golden, above a homestead located a 3-hour drive from Cape Coast, Ghana. The air has cooled just enough for Grace and her family to start cooking their dinner over an open fire.

Tonight they are making gravy and yams, and crushing together tomatoes and garden eggs, a popular type of eggplant.
At regular intervals Grace and her daughters add ingredients to a heavy pot and stir, then shift the firewood underneath, sending smoke billowing up to their faces.
“It affects our eyes,” Grace says. “We can’t see well, not only when I’m cooking but all the time now.”
Many families in Ghana, and around the world, still cook over open flames and use wood, or charcoal for fuel every day. This depletes forests, creates air pollution and has dire health consequences.
An estimated 4.3 million people die prematurely every year from illnesses attributed to household air pollution, including lung cancer, heart disease and pneumonia. About 25% of blackcarbon emissions come from burning solid fuels for household needs.

Just 20 minutes down the road from Grace’s village, Ibrahim and her neighbors are also cooking dinner.
They laugh and say they wish they were cooking banku, made from corn and cassava, because it’s their favorite. But tonight they’ll settle for the vegetable soup simmering on a squat silver stove.
The stove is a clean cookstove, which the women received through a loan from ASA Initiative, a Kiva Field partner that manufactures and distributes stoves that use a clean-burning palm kernel waste product as fuel.

Read more about our work with clean cookstoves at Kiva's Medium page.

About the author

Talea Miller

Talea is excited to combine her love for powerful storytelling and her digital strategy experience. She comes to Kiva from the Kaiser Family Foundation, where she managed digital strategy for the foundation's consumer-focused PSA campaigns. Prior to that she was a reporter and producer at the PBS NewsHour for five years. At the NewsHour she had the opportunity to travel extensively in the developing world as part of the program's global health unit, covering a wide range of stories including the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake, doctor shortages in Tanzania and the mistreatment of the mentally ill in Indonesia. In addition to being a news junkie, Talea enjoys photography, hiking and attempting to paint. She graduated from Northwestern University with a B.S. in Journalism and is originally from Maryland. So she also knows a lot about horses.