Interview with Raphaël Danglade: Clean Cooking, a Double Struggle for African Women

12 June 2024

Raphaël Danglade is an expert in the field of climate and development related to Africa and Europe. He currently holds the position of Climate and Development Portfolio Manager at the Africa-Europe Foundation. He brings his expertise to various crucial topics such as climate, energy, agrifood systems, the blue economy, carbon markets, and adaptation.


  • On May 14th, the “Clean Cooking” summit was held in Paris to highlight the issue of rudimentary cooking methods, which currently affect 90% of Africans. How can the cooking methods currently used in Africa be considered “rudimentary” and dangerous for those who use them?

Currently, it is estimated that around 2.6 billion people worldwide still cook using methods that are not clean, particularly in Africa. This is especially true in Sub-Saharan Africa, where 900 million people, or 4 out of 5 families, cook using methods that are not considered “clean”. These people typically cook with wood, charcoal, or kerosene, which has direct consequences on forests and indoor air quality, particularly affecting women and children. In Sub-Saharan Africa, all these rudimentary cooking methods are used, leading to impacts on both human health and the environment. The health effects are concerning as they contribute to the premature death of 500,000 children and women each year. Therefore, it is essential to address this issue.


  • How are Africans, particularly African women, more likely to be affected by rudimentary cooking methods? And how does the issue of cooking methods intersect with the fight for gender equality and the battle against the climate crisis?

The effects of rudimentary cooking methods are detrimental to both human and natural environments. However, women and children are the primary victims because, on the African continent, this issue affects those who spend the most time cooking, particularly as they prepare meals for various households, either individually or communally. When discussing the impacts of “unclean” cooking methods, we primarily refer to greenhouse gas emissions and black carbon in the form of smoke directly inhaled by women and children. They are the first to inhale this black smoke, which has a direct impact on their lung condition and breathing. This is what needs to be addressed, and these risks must be mitigated by providing solutions. The International Energy Agency’s Clean Cooking Summit in Africa last May reminds us that within the framework of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, the international community has committed to providing universal access to clean cooking methods by 2030.

Clean cooking is at the intersection of many issues, involving the affected populations, particularly women and children, as well as human and environmental health. Today, there is significant deforestation due to the lack of accessible and affordable solutions for the populations concerned. It is primarily a development problem that affects several interconnected areas.


  • To counter this problem, we have seen the emergence of “clean cooking” methods. Can you explain what they consist of, where they are already deployed, and what benefits they bring, especially for African women?

On May 14th, the Clean Cooking Summit in Africa, organized by the International Energy Agency in Paris at UNESCO, brought this issue to the attention of European and African policymakers. The goal now is to prioritize this issue and ensure it is genuinely supported by policymakers and funders, particularly by deploying various solutions on the ground. Several emerging solutions or technologies exist, such as the use of liquefied natural gas. There are also technologies based on electricity and compost from agricultural residues in the form of briquettes. Currently, the focus is mainly on electric solutions, and the aim is to advance a common vision and investments that concern access to electricity, the transformation of energy systems, and the provision of clean cooking methods across the African continent.


  • In your opinion, how can we encourage the adoption of clean cooking in low-income communities? What strategies should be adopted to make these cooking methods more accessible and affordable for African women?

Today, we need to achieve two things simultaneously: make these cooking methods financially accessible and available to the communities that need them the most, while ensuring that this issue is taken seriously by policymakers and international funders. For example, following COP 28 in Dubai, the heads of state of Sierra Leone and Kenya decided to establish clean cooking delivery units within their governments. These units help to take the issue seriously, create more coordination within various ministries, and jointly define a roadmap with different international agencies for the deployment of national-scale programs.

In terms of financing, investing in clean cooking methods is an investment in the future of the African continent. Currently, subsidies for clean cooking methods are the main financing mechanism, but there is a clear need to consider more innovative financing forms, such as turning to carbon credits. By quantifying the emissions avoided by clean cooking methods, carbon credits can be issued and sold on carbon markets. This type of approach is developing rapidly, and African governments are working to establish more rigorous frameworks with greater transparency to ensure the integrity and quality of carbon credits. Europe, with its expertise in this field, can support African countries in their efforts.


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