The Igniting Change Report: A Critical Evaluation

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Distilling the Central Information:

  1. What is the central development issue of the Igniting Change Report?

The world has seen tremendous and exponential growth in technology, but to this day, the rampant use of primitive means of cooking such as open fire stoves and wood-burning stoves is observed across the world. The Igniting Change Report aims to highlight the various environmental, financial and health-related dangers that are attached to the use of rudimentary and inefficient cookstoves. The report also attempts to examine how the lack of access to clean cooking methods affects women and children in particular. It is estimated that the inhalation of toxic substances resulting from unsafe, primitive cookstoves lead to nearly two million deaths of women and children die each year (Cordes 2011, 4). The report advocates the replacement of traditional open fire stoves with environmentally responsible and safer choices. The report gives a comprehensive account of the various hazards attached to conventional means of cooking. It highlights the need to adopt clean and safe cooking practices. It shows how the steps and initiatives being taken to eradicate rudimentary cooking practices. 

  1. Why do you think the issue is important, especially for developing countries?

Over the past few centuries, some parts of the world have taken advantage of technological advancements to transition from conventional biomass fuels (wood, animal dung, crop residues such as rice husks) to alternatives such as electricity and fossil fuels (kerosene or gas). Developing countries have not been as successful in eliminating the use of rudimentary cookstoves. The United Nations Environment Programme and World Health Organization Global Environment Monitoring System (GEMS) have confirmed that the most alarming air pollution conditions and the largest indoor pollutant concentrations and exposures are recorded in rural and urban areas of the developing world (Staton and Harding 1998). This is particularly rampant in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, where a third of the urban population and the vast majority of the rural poor rely on crude, outmoded cookstoves. The pace of technological development in these countries is relatively slow. Moreover, people living in these parts of the world lack awareness about the harmful impacts of these cooking methods, with regards to the environment, economy and health. Less industrialized countries a much higher proportion of energy at the household level, primarily for cooking and lighting. According to the International Energy Agency, 100 million more people will use traditional biomass fuels in 2030 (Cordes 2011, 10). This paints a troubling picture for the future and suggests that the world will continue to observe the extensive use of traditional cookstoves in these developing countries in the years to come. 

  1. How can it lead to poverty reduction?

The use of clean, safe cookstoves and fuels has several benefits, including poverty reduction. In urban areas, fuel for cookstoves has to be purchased. Bwenge (2011) conducted research in Tanzania study the effects of adopting improved wood stoves on the welfare of rural women in Kibaha district, Tanzania. A total of twenty respondents participated in the research and compared their experience of using traditional firewood stoves with improved wood stoves. It was found that improved wood stove reduced firewood consumption for more than 50 per cent. Improved wood stove led to greater generation of income. Sixty-five per cent of the respondents reported that traditional wood stove had contributed to the reduced income of their family, because of the copious amount of time spent on firewood collection and cooking. This left them with little time to engage in small businesses like gardening, fish vending and fruit selling. As the women in these villages are not employed in the formal sector, they mainly depend upon small businesses for their income.

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