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Malawi's Clean Cookstove Drive Turns Into A Regional Model

Malawians today celebrated an enormous success to have reached the goal to disseminate 2 million cleaner cookstoves to households since 2013. The move is inching towards the local cleaner energy access by 2030, national transformation agenda 2063 and UN Sustainable Development Goal seven on clean energy says experts in the sustainable development arena.

The National Cookstove Steering Committee (NSCS) describes a cleaner cookstove as a device which burns cooking fuels such as firewood, sustainably produced charcoal, or liquefied petroleum gas more efficiently and produces less smoke.

Technically, cleaner cookstoves have a thermal efficiency above 20% which results in lower greenhouse gas emissions and reduced indoor air pollution. NSCS does not promote one specific type of cleaner cookstove; instead, NCSC promotes any stove that is cleaner: Convenient, Low in Emissions, Efficient, Affordable, Non-Harmful, Easy-to-Use and Robust.

In Malawi, 96% of households use biomass (firewood and unsustainably produced charcoal) to meet their cooking and heating needs. Significantly, the vast majority of these households are still using traditional, inefficient cooking methods which are a major source of air pollution and drivers of deforestation in Malawi. Through the adoption of fuel-efficient and cleaner cookstoves, Malawi’s consumption of firewood and charcoal will decrease, which will have positive impacts on forests, agriculture, health, education, socioeconomic status and gender.

Speaking to limited participants that attended the 2 million commemoration in compliance to COVID -19 regulations. Minister of Energy, Newton Kambala who addressed the participants virtually branded the event a special moment for Malawians to feel proud because initially, the goal looked intimidatingly unattainable.

Joseph Kalowekamo shares light moments with Alfred Chisale a producer of Chitete Mbaula at TA Chadza in Lilongwe

Kambala added that after it was declared in 2013 by former President of Malawi, Joyce Banda, a small number of stakeholders came together to set up a small task force under the leadership of the Department of Energy to figure out what could be done on the pathway to reaching that goal.

“The taskforce that preceded NCSC was initiated within the country and not from outside like was in Kenya and Uganda. In those countries, it was the organization now known as Clean Cooking Alliance who initiated the national cookstove committees which have now increasingly become less active as support phased out," Kambala provided background to the success story.

“That is the second thing we can proudly celebrate, because this is very special: No other country in Southern Africa has embraced the cooking topic as Malawi has done with a homegrown initiative,” the Minister cited the local achievement as exceptional.

NCSC chair and deputy director of energy, Joseph Kalowekamo described the road towards reaching 2 million cookstoves as a multi-stakeholder effort and that various organizations contributed in creating the enabling environment, provided the funding, helped coordinate sectors and work on mainstreaming policies and regulations.

Kalowekamo extended special thanks to those active people, businessmen and women, NGOs, stove producers and stove sales agents, who in the end have done the job of getting 2 million cleaner cookstoves out there to households and social institutions.

“The taskforce that preceded NCSC was initiated within the country and not from outside like was in Kenya and Uganda. In those countries, it was the organization now known as Clean Cooking Alliance who initiated the national cookstove committees which have now increasingly become less active as support phased out," Kambala provided background to the success story.

The NCSC chair observed that the cookstove out there now contribute to reducing respiratory health problems, they help to save money because they use less wood and other fuels, they help to save time and they contribute to jobs creation. More importantly, he added those 2 million cleaner cookstoves now contribute to reducing our impact on our precious natural resources and forests.

‘The collective achievement blends well with the new catch word on the scene: Mindset Change.  This includes a positive value system; human development which is gender sensitive involving active citizen engagement; infrastructure development, cleaner energy utilization, leading to environmental sustainability,” he lauded the unity of purpose among the various players and funding partners.

Speaking during a panel discussion to commemorate the event Irish Aid representative Chikumbutso Kilembe was of the view that the unity of purpose showcased by the various partners should move forward towards drumming up support for adoption of the technology by the masses.

“We must not relent that we have hit the 2 million target, but we must explore avenues to ensure sustained advocacy that should penetrate all areas for more technology adoption.” He said adding, “In doing so, we will ease the pressure being exerted on forests resources.”

Khadija Mussa of ENDEV GIZ presents facts and figure leading to 2 million cookstoves

Teddie Kamoto, deputy director of forestry cited the move to take the technology to hotspots areas where illegal charcoal is being utilized on a large scale from unsustainable sources resulting in degrading the environment.

He however assured the public that the department realizes that charcoal will be in use in the future. He emphasized that through the National Charcoal Strategy there are provisions for charcoal to be produced from sustainable sources and permits are given by Forestry department adding however enforcement will continue to be used to apprehend illegal natural resources users.

Support towards the initiative came from developing partners that included USAID, UKAID, Irish Aid, Norway, GIZ, ENDEV, NORAD, Netherlands Enterprise Agency, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

NCSC was established in 2012 after the Government of Malawi through the Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, became a signatory of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Clean Cooking Alliance.

The NCSC is the committee responsible for monitoring the Government’s progress toward achieving this goal. It is comprised of government actors, development partners, the private sector, and civil society. The NCSC provides technical oversight and guidelines for cookstove promotion and adoption throughout the country.

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About the Author
Charles Mkoka
Charles Mkoka is Secretary General of the Association of Environmental Journalists. He is also Lead Partner for Ecosystems Partners, a privately owned firm he set up in 2015. He is a regular contributor of AEJ News and one of the editorial crew behind content gathering and production.



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