Journal Article - January 2023

A geospatial approach to understanding clean cooking challenges in sub-Saharan Africa

Babak Khavari, Camilo Ramirez, Marc Jeuland & Francesco Fuso Nerini
Universal clean cooking is a key target under Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7, with implications for several other SDGs, such as good health, gender equality and climate. Yet, 2.4 billion people globally still lack access to clean cooking. The situation is especially dire in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), where only 17% use clean options. We develop OnStove, an open-source spatial tool comparing the relative potential of different cookstoves on the basis of their costs and benefits, and apply it to SSA. Our results suggest a severe market failure as the currently most used solution, traditional biomass, produces the lowest social net-benefits nearly everywhere in SSA. Correcting this failure, which stems from multiple market and behavioural obstacles, would deliver significant health, time and emission benefits but requires identification and promotion of policies to transform cooking energy use. Spatial mapping offers a more nuanced understanding of the costs needed to deliver cleaner cooking transitions than was previously possible, which is useful for improved targeting of intervention strategies.
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