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Editor’s Note: This is the first of a two-part series.  Check back tomorrow for five solutions to advance clean cookstoves.

Did you know that cooking is a major global development issue? 

Around the world, 3 billion people burn solid fuels such as wood and charcoal for their daily cooking needs.  The resulting smoke leads to a range of negative consequences for human health and the environment, and the act of collecting fuel can put women in danger and deprive them of opportunities to work or go to school.

The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, a public-private partnership led by the United Nations Foundation, is working to address these issues by creating a global market for clean and efficient household cooking solutions. Here are five reasons why clean cookstoves matter.

       1.    4 million people lose their lives each year from the simple act of cooking a meal.  Exposure to smoke from traditional cookstoves and open fires causes a range of respiratory, cardiovascular, eye, and skin ailments, from cancer to emphysema to heart disease.

       2.    A recent report found that household air pollution from cooking is the 4th greatest health risk in the world after high blood pressure, alcohol, and tobacco.

       3.    About half of child deaths from pneumonia – the greatest killer of children ages 0 to 5 – are from household air pollution exposure.

       4.    Relying on biomass for cooking and heating forces women and children to spend hours each week collecting wood. Women face severe personal security risks as they search for fuel, especially from refugee camps and in conflict zones.

      5.    Using solid biomass as fuels depletes forests and releases a toxic mix of pollutants that contribute to climate change.

 Ethiopia – Credit UN Foundation and Talia Frenkel

 Guatemala – Credit Nigel Bruce

India – Credit Romana Manpreet and Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves