The executive director, Spaces for Change, (S4C), Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri, has advocated for cleaner energy for women to advert health hazards associated with the use of kerosene.
She stated this in an exclusive interview with Daily Times in Lagos, adding that Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) should be made available to women in smaller quantities such as three litres, six litres, 12litres so that the down trodden can afford the prices. As the low income earners may not afford the prices of big cylinders available.
According to her, “welfare of women and children should be paramount as there are substantive evidence showing that indoor air pollution (IAP) from biomass fuels is a cause of respiratory health problems. One estimates suggests that 4.3 million deaths were attributable to household air pollution(HAP)in 2012 from cooking with solid fuels(WHO 2014), and as a result of pneumonia 12 percent, stroke 34 percent, ischaemic heart disease 26 percent, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) 22 percent and lung cancer six percent. Adverse health outcomes associated with IAP include asthma. Bronchitis, tuberculosis, eye conditions such as cataracts low birth weight and heart disease”.
“Such women and children spend more time indoors than men, and because they are responsible for cooking, they are more likely to experience these effects. For example, women exposed to indoor smoke are three times as likely to suffer from COPD, such as chronic bronchitis, than women who use cleaner fuel types . Introduction of modern energy sources which reduces the reliance on biomass can address health consequences”, she said.
The executive director maintains that access to cleaner energy should be prioritized as the time taken to secure energy supplies, for instance the collection of firewood, is expected to fall. Secondly, the time taken to execute chores may fall as a result of using more efficient fuel sources. Cooking on Natural Gas (LPG) for example is more efficient and takes less time than cooking on kerosene due to higher heating value of the former. While electrification of water pumping may reduce the time spent by women and girls in collecting water. Access to lighting reduces the need to collect lighting fuels such as kerosene and thus allows for other activities. Apart from time-saving benefits, the introduction of modern energy sources can lead to other important , positive outcomes for women in terms of improvements in welfare, productivity and empowerment”, she said.
Findings according to her show that increased electrification in South Africa and Guatemala leads to an increase in female empowerment in the order of nine percentage points, and attribute this to women spending less time on domestic chores. Alternatively, pathways by which modernization of energy services could lead to increased opportunity for income generating activities include increased demand for labour as a result of electrification in the local community and availability of energy to run small business or work at home. However, ability to realize and profit from these potential opportunities depends on whether women are empowered to do so and his is where Nigeria power programme can play a critical role.