Around 400 Kenyans die every week from health complications arising from cooking with unclean fuels such as charcoal, firewood and kerosene, says the World Health Organisation (WHO).
To tackle this problem, we need to raise mass awareness and drive social participation, while promoting clean alternatives. CHUJA , a powerful new movement, formed by a cross-section of Kenyan society – including ordinary citizens, celebrities and influencers – aims to rally Kenyans around the problem of dangerous cooking methods.
CHUJA, an acronym for Chama Cha Usalama Jikoni Amua, is highlighting the dangers of cooking with charcoal, firewood, kerosene, and illegally refilled gas canisters, while driving a movement to stop using these methods in favour of cleaner and safer alternatives.
“The impact of using dirty cooking fuels is grossly under-reported and unknown by many,” said DJ Shiti, actor on The Real Househelps of Kawangware and, one of the founding members of CHUJA. He added: “more than 400 of our citizens are dying every week from this scourge – the figures are shocking! That’s equivalent to 3 plane crashes every week! We have formed CHUJA because it is high time that Kenyans took control of our right to decide to create a better environment for our families and our country in general.”
Ambient and household air pollution, driven by cooking with dirty and polluting fuels, has long been reported by global experts. In Kenya, as many as 8-10% of early deaths are attributable to indoor air pollution from charcoal and wood cooking alone, not even including the unquantified but likely substantial negative effects of kerosene cooking on incidences of lung function, infectious illness and cancer, as well as burns and poisonings.
It is not just Kenya’s health system that feels the strain as a result of dirty cooking fuels; the environment is suffering greatly, due to toxic emissions and charcoal-driven deforestation.
Economically, Kenya loses KSh 200 billion each year as a result of premature deaths brought about by air pollution, according to a study by Global Policy Forum, which made the first major attempt to calculate both the human and financial cost of pollution across the continent.