The fact that Malawi is among countries that have high levels of indoor air pollution due to energy poverty, life for citizens has been trapped to death with respiratory disease.
Indoor air pollution that is reported to be among causes of respiratory disease in the world, pose a serious threat on humans as they are exposed to dangerous substances from unclean sources of energy like biomass mainly used by people for domestic use.
This comes from a background of Malawi’s energy poverty as a large population of people in the country relies on charcoal and firewood for cooking.
A percentage of over 90 is recorded to be mainly using biomass with afew percent of people trying to use other sources such as electricity and gas.
But with persistent power cuts, the percentage of over 90 for people using biomass is likely to go up as other Malawians join the large group of people using charcoal and firewood for cooking.
World Health Organization (WHO) disclosed that the situation in Malawi could be dangerous as 4.3 million people die each year around the world due to respiratory disease caused by household air pollution when a country has energy crisis.
According to WHO, inefficient cooking and heating practices from unclean energy forms produce high levels of household (indoor) air pollution which includes a range of health damaging pollutants such as fine particles and carbon monoxide.
This becomes worse when people are in poorly ventilated dwellings, smoke in and around the home can exceed acceptable levels for fine particles 100-fold.
The exposure to the dangerous substances from fuels is particularly high among women and young children, who spend most time near the domestic hearth.
WHO records show 12 percent of people die due to pneumonia that affect mainly under five children who are exposed to solid fuels when they are left at the back of their mothers with women having stroke as a disease when exposed to the smoke from fire when cooking.
Lung cancer is also reported to be another disease that people die from as they are exposed to carcinogens from solid fuels.
Amid all that, Renew’n’Able Malawi feels more needs to be done to avert the situation of energy poverty in the country.
Renew’n’Able Malawi Advocacy and Communication Officer Wonderful Mkhutche called for a need to have collective efforts to avert the challenges of the current status of the country on energy.
“Mothers and children are dying due to Indoor Air Pollutions. These come from unclean sources of energy like the three stone fire. There are other viable options like Chitetezo Mbaula which uses biomass as a source of energy. Chitetezo Mbaula uses half the amount of firewood on the three stone fire and produces less smoke. This is safe and clean for mothers and children,” said Mkhutche.
He further urged energy stakeholders to bang heads in implementing safe energy use arguing the crisis has negative effects to Malawi.
Mkhutche further disclosed that the energy crisis also put a threat on environment as people cut trees for firewood and charcoal to meet the demand of people being affected with the poverty on energy.
While concurring with Mkhutche, health activist Maziko Matemba urged authorities to take note of the respiratory disease that are not seriously in the minds of people responsible.
“It’s worrisome that a country is failing to take to account diseases that affect Malawians, respiratory disease are now on the increase if causes like household air pollution are noted an action can be implemented to deal with that chain that lead to losing of life,” said Matemba in interview with Malawi24.
He added that civic education could be another way to use to ensure people know the impacts of unclean forms of energy so that they can help in changing the current energy problem.
As former United Nation (UN) secretary general Ban Ki-moon argued, “we need to tackle energy poverty”. Thus, efforts to have clean energy need “all players” to take part to ensure Renew’n’Able Malawi’s vision of having clean energy use by 2030 remains an achievable dream in Malawi.