More than 20,000 Ghanaians die prematurely every year through the use of biomass fuels, including firewood, charcoal, and kerosene for cooking.
According to the Second Lady, Mrs Samira Bawumia, the deaths stemmed from non-communicable diseases such as stroke, heart-related diseases, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), and lung cancer caused by the use of biomass fuels.
To this end, she has charged Ghanaians to adopt the use of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), which was clean, safe, and efficient as an alternate cooking fuel.
Speaking at the launch of the nationwide LPG Awareness and Sensitisation Campaign in Accra yesterday, she explained that the use of LPG improves health, reduces poverty, protects the environment, and enhances livelihoods.
Championed by the National Petroleum Authority (NPA), the campaign is aimed at promoting the use of LPG for cooking, and forms part of government’s effort to increasing its usage to 50 per cent by 2030.
Citing the World Health Organisation (WHO), Mrs Bawumia, who is an Ambassador for Clean Cooking, said household air pollution accounted for about 45 per cent of premature deaths in children under five years globally.
Here in Ghana, women and children in most rural communities travel long distances to collect fuel in the form of firewood, a practice which exposes them to bites from venomous animals, and increased risk of sexual assault.
“The use of biomass for cooking also contributes to climate change through emission of green house gases and black carbon as well as deforestation through the harvest of wood and sometimes even economic trees such as shea tree and oak tree,” she added.
LPG, however, Mrs Bawumia noted, was a cleaner burning fuel that provided smoke-free indoor cooking and helped reduce outdoor and urban air pollution as well as emit less carbon than charcoal and five times less firewood.
She said estimates indicated that cooking with LPG saved about four productive hours daily which could be used in productive areas such as education, agriculture, and other income-generating activities.
Mrs Bawumia called on the NPA to increase education on the safe use of LPG by including information on cylinder expiration dates and when to change or replace the various LPG accessories to safeguard the sustainability of the LPG market in Ghana.
The Minister of Energy, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, in a speech read on his behalf, said there was the need for Ghanaians to adopt the use of sustainable and clean energy such LPG as it contributes significantly towards the reduction of climate change.
He noted that the government was taking actions to address alternative livelihoods for families that depend on the charcoal business for their sustenance in order to reduce further depletion of Ghana’s forest cover.
Among them, he said, was the distribution of more than two million cooking stoves and related accessories to new users of LPG in rural households across the country.
“In taking this action, I know we cannot completely eliminate the use of charcoal but we can reduce it to the barest minimum such that the environment can be sustained,” Mr Prempeh explained.
The Chief Executive Officer of the NPA, Dr Mustapha Abdul-Hamid, said the campaign was in line with the Authority’s goal of eradicating energy poverty in the country.
He explained that the goal could be achieved by ensuring that energy sources were available, affordable and accessible, hence the decision of the NPA to collaborate with the Ministry of Energy (MoE) to ensure the success of the national petroleum gas policy and the cylinder recirculation model.
This, he said, would ensure that Ghanaians have access to safe, clean and environmentally friendly LPG for increased domestic, commercial and industrial usage.