The U.S. Commitment to Cookstoves in Africa

Fact Sheet
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
June 16, 2011

In September 2010, U.S. Secretary of State Clinton announced the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, a public-private partnership led by the United Nations Foundation to save lives, improve livelihoods, empower women, and combat climate change by creating a thriving global market for clean and efficient household cooking solutions. The Alliance’s 100 by 20 goal calls for 100 million homes to adopt clean and efficient stoves and fuels by 2020.

On the heels of Secretary Clinton’s visit to Africa this week, seven African nations have joined the Alliance, including Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Rwanda, and Tanzania as well as the Nigerian Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, which includes four Nigerian federal ministries.

The Problem: Nearly half of the world’s population – about 3 billion people – cooks their food each day on polluting, inefficient stoves. Exposure to smoke from traditional cookstoves and open fires is the fifth worst health risk factor in poor countries and leads to nearly 2 million premature deaths of mostly women and young children each year (more than twice the mortality from malaria).

More than 70% of Africans burn solid fuels such as wood, charcoal or crop residues for their home cooking needs. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that each year more than one quarter of the worldwide deaths associated with exposure to cookstove smoke occur in Africa – that equates to more than 550,000 deaths in Africa attributable to cookstoves. Also according to WHO, out of the 23 countries in the world where cookstoves represent more than 4 percent of the national burden of disease*, 21 are in Africa.

New Alliance Countries By The Numbers**


Percent of population
cooking with solid fuels

Deaths per year

Percent national burden of disease
attributable to solid fuels

Burkina Faso

More than 95

(6th highest figure in Africa)

(highest in the world)


More than 95

(2nd highest figure in Africa)












(highest figure in Africa)



More than 95


(7th highest in the world)


More than 95

(4th highest figure in Africa)


A Global Alliance: The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves ( is working with public, private, and non-profit partners to help overcome market barriers and achieve large-scale production, deployment, and use of clean stoves and fuels in the developing world. The Alliance comprises a rapidly growing list of nearly 100 public, private, philanthropic, NGO, academic, and other partners, including the governments of Norway, Denmark, El Salvador, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Malta, Peru, and the United Kingdom. The Ethiopian Government has an ambitious national effort to address the risks associated with cookstoves, and many leading partners of this sector are active in Ethiopia, including: UNHCR, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV), Project Gaia, and Bosch-Siemens. World Vision is piloting other improved stoves in Ethiopia.

U.S. Government Commitment: The United States Government has committed more than $50 million to the Alliance over five years. Participating U.S. agencies include: The State Department, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services (National Institutes of Health; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), and the U.S. Agency for International Development. The U.S. Government is mobilizing financial resources, providing top-level U.S. experts, and leveraging research and development tools to help the Alliance achieve its 100 by 20 target. Other U.S. agencies also are considering investments in this sector.

*According to the World Health Organization (WHO), burden of disease quantifies mortality and morbidity due to a given disease or risk factor.

**Numbers according to WHO.

Africa: U.S. Government Cookstoves Activity by Agency

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Working with the Alliance, CDC has begun investments on health evaluation related to clean and safe cookstoves in Kenya. This effort will evaluate the introduction of new improved stoves in Nyanza Province, Kenya on reducing household pollution as a risk factor for childhood pneumonia and low birth weight. In addition, this evaluation will provide critical information on stove acceptability, sustainability, and scalability of introducing new and improved stoves in rural Kenya.

Department of Energy (DOE): DOE is partnering with World Vision on a project in Ethiopia (FY09-FY11) to develop a modification to the Berkeley-Darfur Stove, enabling it to work better with Ethiopian pots and cooking methods. The modified stove is low-cost and can be easily assembled locally in large numbers to provide local employment. Furthermore, the modified stove has proven to be comparable to or better than other competing stove products, according to third party tests conducted with Ethiopian women cooks.

Department of State: State is leveraging diplomatic channels to engage new partners in Africa. These include outreach to governments as well as private, non-governmental, and multi-lateral partners. Several U.S. embassies in Africa are working with local cookstoves efforts, including in Ethiopia, Lesotho, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Tanzania. The State Department leads the U.S. federal interagency discussions and coordination with the Alliance, and also coordinates diplomatic dialogues related to global partnerships, health, women’s issues, climate change, and the environment.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): During her February 2011 visit to East Africa, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson promoted the use of clean cookstoves. The EPA-led Partnership for Clean Indoor Air (PCIA) has 175 African partners that work in 21 countries and which will be integrated with the Alliance. In 2010, PCIA Partners reported selling more than 800,000 clean and efficient cookstoves in Africa. Specific activities include: current scale-up projects in Ethiopia and Kenya; earlier pilot projects in Ghana, Mauritania, Nigeria, and Uganda (more than100,000 sales reported in 2010), including the first cookstove organization to be certified under the Gold Standard to receive voluntary carbon credits; in-house testing of many stoves sold in Africa; numerous stove testing workshops in Africa; and development of a decision support tool for choosing appropriate clean stove technologies.

National Institutes of Health (NIH): The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences has begun a major 5-year study in Ghana to quantify improvements in birth weight and childhood pneumonia from a randomized intervention trial of improved cookstoves during the second trimester of pregnancy. The study is being led by Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health in partnership with Kintampo Health Research Center of the Ghana Health Service.

Peace Corps: Peace Corps Volunteers in Africa are working with communities to promote the use of improved cookstoves in 11 nations: Benin, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Senegal, Togo, and Zambia.

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID): USAID cookstoves activities in Africa include: numerous field tests to determine local acceptance of fuel-efficient stoves in East Africa, especially in humanitarian settings; work with UN agencies to address household energy issues in humanitarian settings; work with Kenyatta University in Kenya to test the efficiency of stoves USAID hopes to promote in the Mt. Kenya and Mara-mau regions, areas rich in biodiversity and where local populations currently lack access to stove models marketed in urban markets; and partnership with World Wildlife Foundation to promote the use of efficient cookstoves in the area of Goma, Congo to cut charcoal use in half (most wood for charcoal production is extracted from the nearby Virunga National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site).

PRN: 2011/968