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A breath of fresh air: A photo report on clean cooking in Cambodia

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Almost 80% of the 3 million rural households in Cambodia cook their meals over traditional wood fires. And around 14,000 Cambodians die each year because of air pollution caused by smoke. Women usually do the cooking, and using wood fires puts them and any children in the room at risk of smoke-related diseases.

Wood fires are also not good for the environment. Collecting wood contributes to forest degradation, as trees are often not replanted, and wood releases CO2 during burning. To help households in Cambodia switch to clean cooking methods, the non-profit SNV Netherlands Development Organisation promotes clean cooking alternatives under the EnDev programme.

Encouraging change

Change starts with knowledge, so the project team organised village meetings and had representatives talk to locals about the dangers of cooking over a wood fire and the health risks. They also talked about how inefficient cooking with wood is and how using a clean cookstove saves time as you do not have to collect firewood. The group then had an open discussion and talked about the solutions.

Representatives also spoke to small groups and families to make sure everyone understood the importance of clean cooking and how it would benefit them. Working with small groups made it possible for everyone to have their questions answered and for representatives to take a more personal approach.

They even visited temples to talk to the monks. The monks have an important status and role in the community.

Leaving no one behind

The team made sure to leave nobody behind.  They involved low-income households and vulnerable groups. After all, everyone can benefit from clean cooking, and the team wanted to give everyone the chance to learn more.

They used different materials such as posters, flashcards and booklets so that everyone understood the benefits of clean cooking.

Access to clean cooking technology

Now, Cambodians can buy clean cooking technologies locally. And thanks to the project and visual aids, it is clear which products are available, including prices and benefits.

Local shopkeepers also demonstrate how to use clean cooking technologies. This way, villagers are comfortable using them before they buy them.

A cleaner cooking future

The first results of this approach seem positive.

And have contributed to these results in Cambodia:

  • 300,000 people living in rural areas have been educated on clean cooking;
  • 115,000 people now benefit from clean cooking;
  • 17,000 households have bought a modern cookstove, and 3,500 have stopped using wood.
These results bring a smile to our faces, as they:
  • have a positive impact on the health of Cambodians;
  • give women more time to do other income-generating activities, time which would otherwise have been spent collecting wood;
  • reduce emissions, which has a positive impact on the world.

More information

Would you like more information on clean cooking? Visit our page: What is clean cooking?

We coordinate the EnDev programme together with a German partner, the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). We do this on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Germany, Norway and Switzerland also provide funding for the programme. Learn more about the EnDev programme.

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