More than 17,000 people die annually in Ghana as a result of using unclean cooking methods, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) has revealed.
Unclean cooking methods involve the use of charcoal, firewood and cow dung charactised by smoke which is dangerous to health.
Out of this number, 2,000 are children, who die every year due to upper respiratory infections caused by solid fuels.
The sector minister, Ms Alima Mahama, made the revelation when she toured the Sakti Agyarkwa Cluster of Schools in Nsawam in the Eastern Region on Tuesday, to inspect their kitchens.
The school is a beneficiary of the Integrated School Kitchen Improvement Project (I-SKIP).
I-SKIP, which has been introduced into the country’s basic school curriculum, is an initiative which seeks to promote clean cooking technology within school kitchens across the country and also contribute to a knowledgeable, healthier and more efficient school community.
It is being undertaken with support from non-profit organisations including Ghana Alliance for Clean Cookstoves and Fuels (GHACCO), World Education and Clean Cooking Alliance (CCA), among other partners, who are collaborating with the government to provide schools with evirosoft institutional stoves which use less firewood.
According to the minister, the government was poised on transforming all traditional school kitchens across the country to modern ones.
“I am very excited by this initiative and I urge schools who have already benefitted from this gesture to maintain their cooking stoves well.
I am also assuring schools that have not yet benefitted from this laudable project to be patient because it will soon get to their turn,” she said.
Throwing more light on the benefits of the project, the minister mentioned that it promoted clean cooking technology as a living laboratory where students, teachers and staff could observe and learn about the benefits of clean cooking technology and energy efficiency in schools.
She appealed to the private sector and civil society organisations to support the government to ensure a viable clean cooking industry in Ghana.
Ms Mahama noted that the adoption and access to affordable clean sources of energy for everyday life was the surest way to improving public health and safety, mitigating climate change and attracting investment for job creation.
She assured that her outfit would liaise with the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service (GES) to incorporate modern kitchens into school building projects in the country.
The Chief Executive Officer of GHACCO, Mr Muhammed Aminu Lukumane, in a meeting with the minister before the tour, said his outfit was committed to supporting the government’s effort in reviewing and developing clean cooking policies, strategies and regulations to ensure a sustainable and viable clean cooking industry in Ghana.
He indicated that GHACCO would increase its advocacy and awareness raising campaign and capacity building for local cookstoves manufacturers, to ensure that they complied with national standards.
“The future looks promising for the clean cooking industries, especially, within the context of government’s initiative of the One District One Factory (1D1F),” he added.
Touching on policy recommendations to enhance the development of Ghana’s clean cooking industry, he said improved cookstoves must be included on the list of relief items, deployed by the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO).
BY RAISSA SAMBOU