…says clean energy is prerequisite for healthy living
BY FUNMI OLASUPO
ABUJA- In a bid to cut down on energy poverty in the country, the Federal Government, has launched the Rural Women Renewable Energy Security, RUWES, initiative.
Speaking at the launch, the Supervising Minister of Environment Mr .Darius Ishaku, an architect, highlighted the importance of energy in different spheres of life. “Energy is essential in meeting our most basic needs like cooking, lighting and heating that is a prerequisite for a good health, a reality that has been largely ignored by the world community,” he said.
Ishaku regretted that “nearly half of the country’s populations cook on open fire, a contributor to deforestation, global warming, respiratory infections and premature deaths.”
According to him, “solid and fossil fuel combustion emissions from household are a leading risk factor for diseases, accounting for approximately four percent of all lost healthy-life years in low and middle income regions of the country.”
“The statistics is worrisome as the demand for fuel wood resources for household energy impacts terrestrial ecology and land use pattern in a number of regions within the country and that fuel gathering typically requires many hours per week for poor population. Potential climate effects are of concern due to the reenhouse gas and carbonaeous emissions from household combustion of fossil fuel, deforestation and the resultant incidents of erosion across the country,’’ he said.
Widespread deployment of clean cook stoves and solar lighting systems under the RUWES project with energy and combustion efficiency are improvements over traditional dirty fuel sources. They could also help mitigate adverse effect on human health, energy poverty, time and income savings and climate consequences.
“The project RUWES initiated by the Renewable Energy programme of the Federal Ministry of Environment is targeted at the under- served rural women who are usually off grid, energy poor and have the highest incidents of health related issues from harmful energy practices,’’ he said.
The Coordinator of Renewable Energy Programme of the Ministry; Mrs Bahijjatu Abubakar, an engineer, said “the objective of the RUWES project is targeted at the poor Nigerian rural women that are under served.”
“Nigeria contributes 10 percent annual deaths globally and over 98,000 Nigerian women die annually due to fire wood related diseases,” Abubakar said.
She lamented that “the deaths recorded from fire wood usage are higher compared to HIV, tuberculosis and malaria put together.”
“The risks women are exposed to when they cook break-fast, lunch and dinner with fire wood which is equivalent to smoking 3-20 packets of cigarette per day and calls for attitudinal change towards the use of clean cook stoves.
Renewable energy is to address poverty and it is about economic empowerment, creation of jobs and also contributing to the environment which benefits is cleaner, affordable, domestic and effectively infinite source of energy for all energy needs,”
She warned on the use kerosene lamps because they emit dangerous fumes that if inhaled during study can affect the academic performance of the users.
“It has been discovered that children who read with kerosene lamps because of incomplete combustion and emission of black carbon have their intellects affected and so we must do something about it. We don’t want Nigeria to be contributing negatively to the world’s development,’’ she said.