Saving lives through SAFE cooking
WFP works to ensure that the food assistance provided can be consumed as safely and nutritiously as possible. While cooking may be thought of as a safe activity, in many circumstances, especially humanitarian settings, it poses serious health, safety and environmental risks. In Senegal, vulnerable populations are facing severe challenges related to a lack of access to cooking fuel in rural areas.
About 86 percent of the rural population depends on biomass (mostly firewood) for cooking. In many regions, access to fuelwood is restricted as a result of deforestation.
Adoption of fuel-efficient stoves in rural Senegal is limited. Cooking on the traditional three-stone fire is fuel– and time-intensive, exposing cooks to toxic fumes and serious health hazards. In Senegal, indoor air pollution causes an estimated 6,300 premature deaths per year.
Woodfuel collection takes precious time away from more productive activities such as child care, education and income-generating activities.
During collection trips, women and children risk being exposed to sexual and other forms of violence.
The challenge In Senegal, rural populations are highly dependent on firewood to prepare and cook their food, in contrast to urban populations that mostly use charcoal and liquefied petroleum gas. However, in many rural areas access to firewood is limited due to heavy deforestation, threatening the health, safety and livelihoods of the affected populations.
Women and children are particularly affected, as they are often the ones responsible for collecting firewood and preparing meals. In school kitchens where traditional three-stone fires are used to prepare the meals, the cooks face serious health risks from inhaling the toxic smoke emissions.
Large amounts of firewood are often required to prepare the school meals. With students having to contribute to its collection, school attendance can be negatively affected. When firewood is scarce, women and children can spend considerable time and energy in long collection trips.