Business Insider Africa reported on June 29th 2022 that women who cooked food with firewood, charcoal or kerosene are more likely to suffer from depression with a rate of 50% above their counterparts who don’t cook with any of the aforementioned ways.

The new survey critically examined how the lack of access to clean energy for cooking affects mental health in low- and middle-income countries.

By surveying more than 1,100 household women who cooked and lived in urbanizing communities in Kenya, Cameroon and Ghana, the study surmised that women’s mental health might be more likely to suffer from using biomass fuels than men’s as they are traditionally in charge of preparing and cooking food in these countries.

The study revealed that women cooking primarily with charcoal and wood had approximately 50% higher odds of likely depression than those cooking with gas. The study also pointed out that women who had sustained two or more cooking-related burns during the previous year had approximately 150% higher chances of possible depression than those not burned.

Another critical insight from the study revealed that women whose homes did not have electricity for lighting also had 40% higher odds of being depressed than those with electric lighting. Furthermore, the report concludes that women who spend longer cooking are likely to suffer from low mental well-being.

“Our hope is that these studies will provide further motivation to speed up the clean household energy transition in low- and middle-income countries. Worldwide use of “clean” cooking fuels by 2030 is one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals,” the report’s publishers stated.

Using firewood for instance comes with its fair share of environmental hazards as climate change activists warn. The above report clearly shows that it is hazardous to the health of women and not in their overall best interest.

It is a shame that the three aforementioned ways of cooking is still so popular in 21st century Nigeria. The country has abundance of gas reserves which tragically is being wasted by way of flaring which has greatly destroyed the ecosystem in the Niger Delta in no miniscule measure. There is no plausible reason why all households in Nigeria – the supposed ‘Giant’ of Africa shouldn’t have gas to cook food. It is a shame that we still resort to the anachronistic method of cutting firewood, charcoal and kerosine for our cooking needs.

This practice is more common in the rural areas due to massive and widespread poverty. However, the urban and city areas aren’t exempted from it as well as the cost of living and inflation has put cooking gas out of the reach of millions of homes.

The government ought to immediately step in and draft out sturdy public policies to reverse this ugly and shameful trend. As the Muhammadu Buhari led government winds down, the incoming government must show a steeled resolve to ensure that all homes have cooking gas by a certain year in a similar way to how the government in the UK have set 2030 as the date for the complete phasing out of fossil fuel run vehicles in favour of electric ones.

The Nigerian government must walk the talk and save our women from slipping into further depression as it is not in the nation’s best interest for the mental health of majority of her women to be compromised.


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