MAR# 6: Innovative solutions for priority domestic uses (clean cooking and cold chain)
Today, there are about 2.7 billion people – one third of the world’s population – who still have no access to clean cooking mechanism. Fifty percent of these people are living in developing countries. In Africa alone, 700 million people lack access to clean cooking. Currently, traditional devices used are typically fuelled with firewood, or with charcoal, and have very low efficiency. The utilization of traditional biomass poses numerous environmental challenges:
• Traditional biomass utilization is a recognized contributor to deforestation & land degradation;
• Biomass burning in traditional cook-stoves has been found to be responsible for about 20% of global black carbon emissions;
• Indoor cooking with traditional devices causes respiratory illness, which contribute to the premature death of millions of people from associated diseases. In addition, the utilization of traditional biomass also poses social challenges, including:
• The time spent by women and children in gathering fuel;
• Absenteeism from school caused by Illness due to respiratory infections, common in some countries of sub‐Saharan Africa. Actions necessary to overcome the challenges associated with the use of traditional cooking systems represent technological challenges and can be divided into two categories:
• Improving the design of existing stoves, or developing new, more efficient designs;
• Increasing the opportunities for fuel switching.
Complementary to clean cooking is food and drug preservation, a second common issue at domestic and community level in Africa. In sub‐Saharan Africa nearly 40% of food perishes before it reaches the consumer, while the lack of effective refrigeration limits the possibilities for vaccine distribution in rural, and in remote areas. Here the cold chain can play a crucial role in reducing food waste, improving public health, and enabling African communities, especially in rural areas, to participate in national and international trade as producers and consumers. The technological challenges are mainly based on the energy vector, with the use of heat in place of electricity to generate low temperatures in domestic and community systems, or the use of static and compact technologies with higher reliability compared to traditional systems, and the coupling of refrigeration units with off‐grid electric power systems. The development of movable autonomous systems is another important element. Finally the need for compact and fully reliable systems that avoid breaking the cold chain for medicine, and for food preservation with reasonable costs represents a significant socio‐economic challenge.
Capacity Building Focus
Across all these areas to be further researched technical and managerial competences and capacities need to be developed:
At the individual level:
- Researchers need to be involved in improving, managing and maintaining solar photovoltaic systems, cookstoves and cold chain components. They also need to be capacitated to be involved in establishing the standards for the renewable energy components and supply chain, and very importantly in the knowledge transfer towards local communities and the value chain stakeholders. Additionally, capacity needs to be improved for researchers to interact with policymaking to foster an appropriate, supporting, long-term and stable policy environment to ensure market and fast community uptake. Specialised technicians need to be trained in the specific technologies and their different usages and applications, and updated regularly according to research results. Likewise, capacity building activities shall trigger behavioral changes to have energy access with reliable systems.
At institutional level:
- For what concerns infrastructures, activities and programs shall be organised to establish and provide accreditation for laboratories to test photovoltaics, cook stoves and cold chain systems.
• Innovative cooking device design;
• New and appropriate modern cooking systems;
• Local and low‐cost materials used for stove construction;
• Technical improvements in fuel processing or fuel production technologies, and the technical and managerial capacities related to these improved processes and production technologies;
• Improvements to existing technologies, and new technologies for cold chains, including refrigeration units based on solar or biomass resources, as well as long-term sustainability and management capacities.
• Researchers provided with capabilities for lab and field testing of cooking stoves;
• Use of modern fuels promoted and its required skills;
• Sustainable fuel supply chains promoted:
• Effective and low‐cost food preservation promoted;
• Efficient air conditioning promoted;
• Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions due to lower power consumption from the grid or diesel generators reduced.
• GHGs, local pollution, land degradation and deforestation reduced;
• Medicines and vaccines in remote areas better preserved;
• Social conditions of local stakeholders as well as job creation improved;
• Drudgery for girls and women reduced and their social power and health conditions (female empowerment) improved;
• Food and nutrition security strengthened;
• Individual health, and public healthcare improved.