March 2015 saw the 4th consecutive Cleaner Cooking Camp & Open Day in Lilongwe, Malawi and this time it’s Guest Speaker was the Minister of Natural Resources, Mining and Energy Hon. Atupele Muluzi.

What strides have been made in the last few years!

Malawi can call itself “a leader in cleaner cooking for the region”.

Today, Malawi as a country has a goal of 2 million cook stoves by 2020, there is a national steering committee to make this happen, there is a vibrant private sector with plenty of companies and organisations, and there is growing demand for cook stoves. So much so that local producers can’t keep up with supply…

We shouldn’t be complacent, however, and as we scale up we need systems to ensure quality control and assurance. One such tactic that is proving successful is to link up producers to specialised sales and marketing companies that only sell stoves that meet agreed on quality standards. This way there is less chance of stoves of an inferior quality getting to market.

Cook stoves, like mosquito nets, only bring about benefits if they are used. So it is not enough to “disseminate” we need to facilitate usage. So when somebody adopts a cleaner cooking stove, we need to ensure that this person can access a replacement or complementary improved cook stove conveniently.

We know that household air pollution is the single biggest health risk in countries like Malawi, and we know that we need to reduce exposure to smoke. Ideally we would eliminate smoke, but this is not easy in the short term. It will require integrated efforts on promoting improved cook stoves, better ventilation in the cooking place, better cooking practices and less smoky fuels.

National civic education campaigns on these issues is one means of achieving the goal of smokeless cooking places.

As Minister Muluzi stated in his keynote address “cooking should not be a burden, and no woman or girl should get sick or die due to exposure to smoke while cooking.”