Imagine your kitchen when you start to cook. Do you collect the wood? Nudge the coals? (The times you camped out don't count.) Does smoke fill your home, eyes and mouth, and blacken your walls?
For millions around the world, the basic daily function of cooking is a dire health threat. The World Health Organization
calls dirty cookstoves one of the top five health problems globally, a problem which causes two million preventable deaths each year.
Speaking of women the world over toiling over dirty cookstoves, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told a midday plenary session of the Clinton Global Initiative
: The food they prepare is different, but the air is the same. A toxic mix of chemicals" releases poisons at 200 times the level our country's Environmental Protection Agency deems safe, Repeated exposure leads to pneumonia, lung cancer and respitory diseases.
Secretary Clinton then announced a commitment of $50.82 million over the next five years to a new United Nations Foundation initiative
: The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves
, an initiative that aims to place clean cookstoves in 100 million households by 2020, save two million people each year and protect the lives of some three billion people globally.
"Today we can finally envision a future in which open fires and dirty stoves are replaced by clean, efficient and affordable stoves and fuels all over the world -- stoves that still cost as little as $25," said Secretary Clinton. "By upgrading these dirty stoves, millions of lives could be saved and improved. Clean stoves could be as transformative as bed nets or vaccines."
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Lisa Jackson, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, called on everyone to recognize the "basic human need of cooking a meal. We are going to change the way the world cooks!"
"EPA is proud to partner with the State Department, our Administration colleagues, the United Nations Foundation, and the other Alliance partners to address one of the greatest environmental health risks facing the international community today. As a first step in this new partnership, EPA will invest $6 million over the next five years to enhance efforts at stove testing and evaluation, cookstove design innovation and assessments of health benefits. For more than eight years, EPA has been a leader in this field, and we will bring our expertise, our lessons learned and our global network to launching and leading the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves," said Jackson.
The project is a public-private partnership
between governments and corporations. On the U.S. side there is support from the Department of State, the Department of Health and Human Services, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control, the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Partners include the governments of Germany, Peru and Norway, as well as Morgan Stanley, and Shell.
So new is this project, the U.N. Foundation posted on Sept. 14 an opening -- effective immediately - for an executive director
to run the alliance.