Make Cooking Safer: Ban Household Use of Kerosene and Coal in Nepal

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Household air pollution (HAP), caused by burning unclean fuels such as wood, dung, crop residue, coal, and kerosene indoors for cooking and heating, is a serious threat to healthHousehold use of coal releases toxic emissions that lead to lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Burning kerosene indoors also releases harmful emissions that can cause cancer, respiratory diseases, allergies, and cataracts. Because of these dangers, the World Health Organization (WHO) recently released “Indoor Air Quality Guidelines” recommending that countries ban the household use of coal and kerosene.

This recommendation needs to be considered in Nepal, where household air pollution is the number one cause of death and disability.

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 2.45.26 PM

(Graph from Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation GBD Profile: Nepal)

It is time for the Government of Nepal to change its policy by banning the household use of kerosene and coal. Reducing household use of kerosene and coal would help decrease the disease burden caused by HAP. A healthier population will lead to higher economic productivity and ultimately a more prosperous society. Companies in Nepal currently selling kerosene should instead start selling cleaner fuels such as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). The Nepal Ministry of Population and Environment’s Alternative Energy Promotion Centre (AEPC) must develop and promote the policy, and collaborate with the Ministry of Finance to allocate resources for implementing the ban. Local NGOs focused on the issue of household air pollution should join together to lobby for government action. With backing from the WHO and Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, Nepal can and should ban household use of kerosene and coal.

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3 Responses to “Make Cooking Safer: Ban Household Use of Kerosene and Coal in Nepal”

  1. andreanoelleschultz Says:

    I’m curious about a few points – first, if you ban these products, what are the other alternatives that families can use that are low cost for them to implement? Is the liquid petroleum gas that you mention affordable? And also, are there any renewable options that might be considered?

    And second, while I recognize that banning these harmful substances would be beneficial if implementation is successful, is this the most effective way to motivate community change? Do you feel that there would be pushback from communities who would try to use the substances anyways?

    Great introduction for a topic that is quite new to me, thanks!

  2. jmhutain Says:

    Thank you for posting on this important issue. Clearly, Nepal would benefit from the use of cleaner fuels. I cannot agree or disagree with your suggested policy change though without understanding more about the situation. Is this issue affecting the entire population? Why do people currently choose to use these unclean fuels? In a nation where 25% of people live in poverty (http://data.worldbank.org/country/nepal), how will this policy change affect families financially? How does the affect of kerosene compare to the affect of other fuels like wood, which are more difficult to regulate? Given the terrain of Nepal, how will regulation work in places which are remote and isolated?

    I also think that policymakers should also consider an educational campaign about the dangers of unclean fuels, and empowers families and communities to make decisions based on this information. This may (or may not) be a more effective strategy alone or in combination with regulation policy.

  3. lmandel6 Says:

    Thanks for posting on this topic! Your points are well supported with evidence, which makes it easier to read and understand. I think you gave great alternatives for the government of Nepal, but I agree with my classmates that I was wondering about the consumer alternatives. I would assume that people would want to use cleaner and less smelly fuels if they were similar costs to the current fuels. Without viable alternatives, people may actually turn to even worse fuels, such as plastic bags, which are even worse for health and the environment. It might also be helpful to relay which countries have banned them and the outcomes in those countries. Finally, I like the idea of the graphic you used, but for a blog it is a little difficult to interpret. A graphic such as this one http://image.slidesharecdn.com/5-130729010122-phpapp01/95/5indoor-air-pollution-monitoring-and-stove-efficiency-test-experience-of-practical-action-in-nepal-15-638.jpg?cb=1375059723 would be simpler to understand and also answer some of the alternatives questions!

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