Cooking is a routine task that, for most people, does not involve great risks. However, in Africa, this activity is the second cause of premature death for women and children. There, four out of five people cook over open fires and basic stoves. They use charcoal, wood, agricultural waste and animal manure as fuel, which generates clouds of smoke and toxic vapors that are extremely harmful to health and the environment. “I believe that if your neighbor’s house is burning you should help him and Africa is our neighbor,” declared Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), before opening the summit that took place this week in Paris. , aimed at ending the mortality of cooking in Africa for millions of people.

The meeting brought together some 800 participants, including governments, institutions, the UN and companies from more than 50 countries. This summit, the first of such magnitude dedicated to “clean kitchens,” managed to mobilize $2.2 billion in financial pledges. According to a report by the IEA, the African Development Bank (ADB) and the UN, a third of the world’s population uses open stoves powered by rudimentary fuels. This situation, which affects 2.3 billion people, “is not acceptable in the 21st century,” Birol said at the beginning of the meeting at UNESCO headquarters.

The lack of access to a “clean kitchen” is a cross-cutting problem. In addition to causing respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, it limits education and employment opportunities for women, who spend hours each day searching for rudimentary fuel. It also increases greenhouse gas emissions and produces high levels of pollution. “Successfully promoting the clean cooking agenda in Africa would contribute to protecting the environment, climate, health and ensuring gender equality,” said the President of Tanzania, Samia Suluhu Hassan.

The leaders agreed that the year 2024 could mark a “turning point” to end this problem. However, this will depend on meeting the target set by the IEA, which estimates that $4 billion a year is needed to address the problem of contaminated stoves by 2030.

The Africa Clean Cooking Summit was held at UNESCO headquarters in Paris and was co-chaired by Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu; the Prime Minister of Norway, Jonas Gahr Store; the executive director of the International Energy Agency, Fatih Birol; and the president of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina.