Cooking in the Congo: A Technical Assessment in North Kivu, DRC, 2015. Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC).

This report aims to provide a better understanding of the current situation of the domestic energy sector in North Kivu – with a particular focus on cooking, and how it affects the lives of communities living there. It provides an overview and analysis of the most significant energy-related interventions that have taken place (making a distinction between urban and rural/IDP-oriented) in the areas of concern. The analysis of experiences and impacts will help to identify lessons and positive practices for improved programming. Finally, this report assesses different energy resources and provides recommendations for appropriate cooking technologies in this specific context.

Want to Cook Sustainably? Go Solar. National Geographic, Aug 2015.

Author: Victoria Sgarro

If you’ve ever been stuck in a black car on a hot day, then you understand the concept of solar cooking, says Louise Meyer, founder of Solar Household Energy, Inc. (SHE), which promotes solar cooking all over the world. Simply put, a dark surface absorbs sunlight and turns those light waves into heat energy. That’s why your car’s dark leather seats burn up in the summertime, and why we can rely on the sun for fuel. “It’s a heat trap,” Meyer explains.

Meyer became interested in harnessing the sun for fuel when she lived in the Sahel in Northern Africa in the early 1990s. She arrived to promote a textile project the women could sell, but since the women there spent most of their days scavenging for firewood, they had little time to generate income.

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Fuel choice, fuel switching and improved cook stoves in Vietnamese households: Analysis, models and proposals for new solutions. 2015.

Niklas Vahlne

A majority of rural households in the developing world use solid biomass fuels for cooking. This use has severe negative health effects, is often either expensive or time consuming, and contributes to global warming. Options for policy interventions include the promotion of improved cook stoves (ICS) and enabling households to switch to more modern fuels, like liquefied petroleum gas. The main aims of this thesis is 1) to explore whether rural households’ fuel use can be modeled in new ways that focus on prediction, 2) to investigate whether area level differences in fuel use may have impacts for ICS programs, and 3) to address new solutions for ICS programs in areas where the current fuel use is mainly collected biomass.

Methods used to model fuel use are ordinary linear regression and a machine learning algorithm called Random Forest. Further models are developed in order to evaluate possible implications and proposed solutions for ICS programs based on variations in current fuel use. The papers use data from two different surveys. The first data set is from a survey, carried out in the Vĩnh Phúc province of northern Vietnam in 2010. The second survey is representative of most of rural Vietnam and was collected in 2002, 2005, and 2008 as part of the Vietnam Rural Electrification program.

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A Systematic Review of Innate Immunomodulatory Effects of Household Air Pollution Secondary to the Burning of Biomass FuelsAnnals of Global Health, Aug 2015.

Authors: Alison Lee, MD, Patrick Kinney, ScD, Steve Chillrud, PhD, Darby Jack, PhD.

RATIONALE: Household air pollution-associated acute lower respiratory infections cause 455,000 deaths and a loss of 39.1 million DALYs annually. The immunomodulatory mechanisms of household air pollution are poorly understood.

OBJECTIVES: To conduct a systematic review of all studies examining the mechanisms underlying the relationship between household air pollution secondary to solid fuel exposure and acute lower respiratory tract infection to evaluate current available evidence, identify gaps in knowledge and propose future research priorities.

METHODS & MEASURES: We conducted and report the study in accordance with the10 PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) guidelines. A total of 133 articles were fully reviewed and main characteristics were detailed, namely study design and outcome, including in vivo versus in vitro and pollutants analyzed. 36 studies were included in a non-exhaustive review of the innate immune system effects of ambient air pollution, traffic-related air pollution or wood smoke exposure of developed country origin. 1715 studies investigated the effects of HAP-associated solid fuel (biomass or coal smoke) exposure on airway inflammation and innate immune system function.

MAIN RESULTS: Particulate matter may modulate the innate immune system and increase susceptibility to infection through a) alveolar macrophage-driven inflammation, recruitment of neutrophils and disruption of barrier defenses, b) alterations in alveolar macrophage phagocytosis and intracellular killing, and c) increased susceptibility to infection via upregulation of receptors involved in pathogen invasion.

CONCLUSIONS: Household air pollution secondary to the burning of biomass fuels alters  innate immunity, predisposing children to acute lower respiratory tract infections. Data from developing country biomass exposure are scarce. Further study to define the inflammatory response, alterations in phagocytic function and upregulation of receptors important in bacterial and viral binding is needed. These studies have important public health implications and may lead to the design of interventions to improve the health of billions of people daily.

Household air pollution exposures of pregnant women receiving advanced combustion cookstoves in India: Implications for intervention. Annals of Global Health, Aug 2015.

Authors: Kalpana Balakrishnan, PhD, Sankar Sambandam, PhD, Santu Ghosh, MSc,Krishnendu Mukhopadhyay, PhD, Mayur Vaswani, B.E, Narendra Arora, MD, DarbyJack, PhD, Ajay Pillariseti, MPH, Michael N. Bates, PhD, Kirk R. Smith, PhD.

Background – Household air pollution (HAP) resulting from the use of solid cooking fuels is a leadingcontributor to the burden of disease in India. Advanced combustion cookstoves that reduce emissions from biomass fuels have been considered as potential interventions to reduce this burden. Relatively little effort has yet been directed, however, to assessing the concentration and exposure changes associated with the introduction of such devices in households.

Objectives- The study aimed to describe HAP exposure patterns in pregnant women receiving a forced-draft advanced combustion cookstove (Philips model HD 4012) in the SOMAARTH Demographic Development & Environmental Surveillance Site (DDESS) Palwal District, Haryana, India. The monitoring was performed as part of a feasibility study to inform a potential large-scale HAP intervention (Newborn stove trial) directed at pregnant women and newborns.

Methods – We designed the study as a paired comparison exercise with measurements of 24-hr personal exposures and kitchen area concentrations of carbon monoxide (CO) and particulate matter less than 2.5 µm in aerodynamic diameter (PM2.5), before and after the cookstove intervention.Women (n=65) were recruited from 4 villages of SOMAARTH DDESS. Measurements were performed across winter and summer seasons, between December 2011 and March 2013. Ambient measurements of PM2.5 were also performed throughout the study period.

Findings – Measurements showed modest improvements in 24-hour average concentrations and exposures for PM2.5 and CO (ranging from 16 to 57%) with the use of the new stoves. Only those for CO showed statistically significant reductions.

Conclusion – Our results do not support the widespread use of this stove in this population as a means to reliably provide health relevant reductions in HAP exposures for pregnant women, when compared to open biomass cookstoves. The feasibility assessment identified multiple factors related to user requirements and scale of adoption within communities that affect the field efficacy of advanced combustion cookstoves as well as their potential performance in HAP intervention studies.



The role of civil society organizations in low-carbon innovation in Kenya. Innovation and Development, Aug 2015.

Authors: Benard O. Muok and Ann Kingiri. African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS), P. O. Box 45917, 00100 Nairobi, Kenya

There has been growing interest in understanding innovation in developing countries. This is in recognition of the fact that low- and middle-income economies typically have ‘developing’ innovation systems characterized by relatively weak institutions and fragmented actor constellations that restrain interactive learning. The current innovation systems literature tends to overestimate the role of governments as agents of resource allocation while underestimating the importance of civil society in improving basic institutions of the market economy. This literature tends to overlook the particularly important role of non-governmental actors, such as grassroots civil societies in grassroots innovation.

This paper seeks to address two basic questions: How important is the role played by civil society organizations in low-carbon innovation systems? What are the specific roles and what challenges do they face in performing these roles? The paper analyses the role of civil society through the lens of low-carbon innovation. Empirical data were generated using both structured and semi-structured questionnaires targeting innovators in a low-carbon innovation country: Kenya. The paper shows that civil society plays a crucial role in low carbon
innovation in terms of learning and competence-building in Kenya. The study recommends major interventions in terms of a policy framework to recognize and institutionalize civil society as important players in innovation at the grassroots level.

Study protocol: the effects of air pollution exposure and chronic respiratory disease on pneumonia risk in urban Malawian adults – the Acute Infection of the Respiratory Tract Study (The AIR Study)BMC Pulmonary Medicine, Aug 2015.

Authors: Hannah Jary, Jane Mallew, et al.

Background – Pneumonia is the 2nd leading cause of years of life lost worldwide and is a common cause of adult admissions to hospital in sub-Saharan Africa. Risk factors for adult pneumonia are well characterised in developed countries, but are less well described in sub-Saharan Africa where HIV is a major contributing factor. Exposure to indoor and outdoor air pollution is high, and tobacco smoking prevalence is increasing in sub-Saharan Africa, yet the contribution of these factors to the burden of chronic respiratory diseases in sub-Saharan Africa remains poorly understood. Furthermore, the extent to which the presence of chronic respiratory diseases and exposure to air pollution contribute to the burden of pneumonia is not known.

Design – The Acute Infection of the Respiratory Tract Study (The AIR Study) is a case–control study to identify preventable risk factors for adult pneumonia in the city of Blantyre, Malawi. Cases will be adults admitted with pneumonia, recruited from Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, the largest teaching hospital in Malawi. Controls will be adults without pneumonia, recruited from the community. The AIR Study will recruit subjects and analyse data within strata defined by positive and negative HIV infection status. All participants will undergo thorough assessment for a range of potential preventable risk factors, with an emphasis on exposure to air pollution and the presence of chronic respiratory diseases. This will include collection of questionnaire data, clinical samples (blood, urine, sputum and breath samples), lung function data and air pollution monitoring in their home. Multivariate analysis will be used to identify the important risk factors contributing to the pneumonia burden in this setting. Identification of preventable risk factors will justify research into the effectiveness of targeted interventions to address this burden in the future.

Discussion – The AIR Study is the first study of radiologically confirmed pneumonia in which air pollution exposure measurements have been undertaken in this setting, and will contribute important new information about exposure to air pollution in urban SSA. Through identification of preventable risk factors, the AIR Study aims to facilitate future research and implementation of targeted interventions to reduce the high burden of pneumonia in SSA.

Can improved biomass cookstoves contribute to REDD+ in low-income countries? evidence from a controlled cooking test trial with randomized behavioral treatments, 2015. World Bank.

Authors: Beyene, Abebe D.; Bluffstone, Randall; et al.

This paper provides field experiment–based evidence on the potential additional forest carbon sequestration that cleaner and more fuel-efficient cookstoves might generate. The paper focuses on the Mirt (meaning “best”) cookstove, which is used to bake injera, the staple food in Ethiopia. The analysis finds that the technology generates per-meal fuel savings of 22 to 31 percent compared with a traditional three-stone stove with little or no increase in cooking time. Because approximately 88 percent of harvests from Ethiopian forests are unsustainable, these findings suggest that the Mirt stove, and potentially improved cookstoves more generally, can contribute to reduced forest degradation.

These savings may be creditable under the United Nations Collaborative Program on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries. Because of the highly specific nature of the Mirt stove and the lack of refrigeration in rural Ethiopia, rebound effects are unlikely, but this analysis was unable completely to rule out such leakage. The conclusions are therefore indicative, pending evidence on the frequency of Mirt stove use in the field. The effects of six randomized behavioral treatments on fuelwood and cooking time outcomes were also evaluated, but limited effects were found.


Fred Colgan, co-founder of InStove – Cookstoves for the World’s Poorest Communities, 2015.

InStove ( implements safe, clean, and highly efficient institutional cookstoves and allied technologies in an integrated approach to serving the world’s poorest communities. InStove technologies are now in service in 27 countries, including 17 in sub-Saharan Africa where they mitigate environmental harm, protect and feed women, children and displaced people, and help communities to be self-sustaining and economically independent. Fred Colgan, co-founder of InStove, will discuss InStove’s progress and current projects in this update to his April 21, 2013 Forum presentation.


Poverty, Energy Use, Air Pollution and Health in Ghana: A Spatial Analysis, 2015. Doctoral dissertation,Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Author: Arku, Raphael E. 2015.

Under-five mortality is declining in most countries. Very few studies have measured under-five mortality, and its social and environmental determinants, at fine spatial resolutions, which is relevant for policy purposes. Our aim was to estimated under-five mortality and its social and environmental determinants at the district level in Ghana.