Malawian energy use is largely dependent on biomass fuels, in both rural and urban areas. More than 90% of households depend on wood or charcoal for their energy needs. Per annum deaths in the thousands, mostly of under-five children, are attributable to cooking-related indoor air pollution. With intensifying population pressure, household energy is anticipated as a major sustainability challenge for Malawi’s future. The cooking situation in Malawi represents an urgent health, economic and environmental concern, justifying a multilateral effort to prioritize improved cook stoves as vehicles to address Malawi’s development challenges.
It is against this background that the U.S. Government in partnership with the Malawi Department of Forestry, on April 11, hosted a clean cook stove symposium at the U.S. Embassy Public Affairs Auditorium. The symposium took place with support from the United States Forest Service.
Public and private stakeholders collaborated to share knowledge on cook stove efforts in Malawi. The symposium encouraged the Government of Malawi to enlist as a member of the Global Alliance for Clean Cook stoves and to prioritize cooking interventions in the nation’s sustainable development.
Speaking when she officially opened the symposium, U.S. Ambassador to Malawi Jeanine Jackson encouraged Malawians to follow cooking practices that can help in conserving the environment. She said the U.S. Government is committed to supporting initiatives that reduce environmental damage.
The Department of Forestry in Malawi believes this initiative will help reduce deforestation. In his remarks, Assistant Director of Forestry Ted Kamoto said the stove is an innovation that will make people use less wood for cooking and in the process reduce the unnecessary cutting down of trees and help mitigate the impacts of climate change.
A diverse collection of parties including the Government of Malawi (Departments of Forestry, Environmental Affairs, Energy and Health), the U.S. Government, Irish Embassy, Norwegian Embassy, United Nations, GIZ, JICA, World Bank and other Malawi-based eco-system services organizations and academic stakeholders participated in the symposium.
The seminar highlighted existing cook stove promotion efforts with an emphasis on information-sharing and exchange to enhance developing stove programs in Malawi.