Saturday, February 13, 2010

Smokin’? … Not Anymore

How does one obtain a series of respiratory problems and decreased life expectancy if they have never before smoked a cigarette? The answer: cooking. In many impoverished areas of the world including rural Central America, urban and rural parts of Africa, and some areas in rural Central and Southeast Asia, families are being exposed to mass amounts of smoke.

Meals are prepared using clay and burning wood while women hover over a burning flame with billowing smoke, and often times in nearly enclosed rooms that can be shared by the entire family. Not only does this decrease life expectancy, but it also emits greenhouse gases into the environment while burning wood more quickly, and further depleting resources.

The solution: stoves. There are several organizations throughout the world, comprised of volunteers who build stoves for those who cannot afford them. The process is simple and does not take long. Each organization builds them slightly different, but the idea is to provide a chimney of some sort to release smoke from building up within houses. Something so simple can add about 10 to 15 years to life expectancy.

- Leah Kelly

SOURCES: Guatemala Stove Project, Virtual Foundation, Aga Khan Development Network