Currently about 40% of the global population still rely on directly burning various forms of biomass (wood, charcoal, cow dung, crop residues) for their cooking, mainly on open fires. This causes many health problems, drives deforestation and gathering firewood is a huge drain on people’s time and energy. Also many millions of people use paraffin/kerosene lamps, and this causes a kind of fuel poverty in rural off grid locations where many poor people spend a disproportionate part of their income on kerosene. Also both these practices are bad from a carbon emission point of view. Two charities are pioneering innovative solutions that create new and sustainable businesses that address these issues on the ground in Africa, helping overcome multiple problems from poverty to climate change.
Concern Universal is promoting a kind of efficient clay stove that they call a ‘flower pot stove’. These can be made and sold locally so generating new livelihoods, and as they burn less wood this helps decrease pressure on forests, carbon emissions and reduces health problems associated with smoke. Marcus Brigstocke (my favourite comedian) is doing the Radio 4 appeal on their behalf.
Solar Aid is seeking to replace the kerosene lamp with solar powered lights all across Africa. They’ve just sold their millionth lamp, despite working across just 4 of Africa’s 54 states. Their aim is to eradicate the kerosene lamp from Africa by 2020. Again they, like Concern Universal, have an interesting model that combines charity, commercial and entrepreneurial aspects and seeks to solve multiple social, economic and environmental problems simultaneously. I wish them both well. Do explore their websites.
Concern Universal http://www.concern-universal.org/home