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Friday, September 18, 2020

Minister Jarjue: Air pollution key factor in cancer, respiratory diseases

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Speaking at the opening ceremony of an Ecowas regional forum on the development of clean national cooking action plans and capacity building on bio-fuel, he said: “The Gambia is seriously seeking to address its national energy needs through the use of renewable energy. The Gambia as it is the case with many least developed countries has great potential in renewable energy. The Ecowas Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE) has embarked on an initiative known as West Africa Clean Cooking Alliance (WACCA) that seeks to achieve a wide distribution of efficient, affordable, sustainable and safe cooking fuels and devices to the Ecowas population through various intervention strategies that overcome barriers related to technical, economic, social and institutional deficiencies in Ecowas member countries.

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“There are numerous socio-economic benefits associated with clean cooking stoves. Children and mothers will be exposed to fewer air pollution through emissions but also carbondioxide. Air pollution from cooking with solid fuel is a key factor for childhood as well as respiratory disease and cancer. This will correspondingly reduce pressure on our health facilities”.

He added: “The objective of WACCA is to bring clean, safe and affordable cooking energy solutions to the entire Ecowas population by 2030. WACCA will assist in mapping the existing initiatives on fuel and cooking equipment and updating national strategies for cooking energy, through the evaluation of solutions to bottlenecks. The initiative will enable the development of approaches for the local production of equipment and fuels in the market development for technologies and fuels. Key elements of the initiative will be development of clean cooking strategies and action plans, capacity development and implementation of awareness campaigns and establishment of financing mechanisms.

“The issue of clean cooking solutions is central to the implementation of The Gambia’s Nationally Appropriate Climate Change Mitigation Actions (NAMA) and thus our national development blueprints such as the PAGE and Vision 2020.The Gambia’s Second National Communications to the UNFCCC shows about 80 percent of household energy consumption is derived from forest based solid fuels- charcoal and firewood. The Gambia’s NAMA aptly underscores that for the mitigation of greenhouse gas emission and their cumulative buildup in the atmosphere there is need for use of improved cooking stoves to reduce quantity of wood harvested in the forest. This is because the introduction and widespread use of improved wood and charcoal cooking stoves will drop the share of fuel wood.

“The use of improved cooking stoves does not only reduce quantity of fuel consumption, but also dramatically improve a family’s health. Additionally, the money a family spends on wood or charcoal translates into less money being available to be spent on food, education and medical care. In this regard, there has been a number of improved cooking stoves introduced in The Gambia through various interventions. These include the Greenie Cook Stove, which use groundnut briquettes adopted by the Department of Community Development. The greater percentage of the Gambian population still use the traditional three stove cook stove, that does not only consume too much fuel wood, but also generates a lot of smoke. The Gambia government envisions a diversified energy system that is reliable, affordable and environmentally friendly .This will constitute a market transformation, reducing pressure on our forests and woody biomass resources”.

Mahama Kappiah, the executive director of ECREEE said that in their efforts to enhance access to sustainable energy services in the region to reduce the negative consequences of inefficient, unsafe and unsustainable cooking they aim to ensure that the entire Ecowas population will have access to efficient, sustainable and modern cooking fuels and devices by 2030.

Also muscling in on the forum to promote use of renewable energy the minister of Energy, Saja Sanneh said: “Successful initiatives in the region should be replicated and promoted. Achieving wide distribution of clean, safe, efficient and affordable cooking fuels and equipment will require that social and economic barriers have to be overcome.”

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