Since household cooking is primarily the responsibility of women in nearly all societies, and the entire household fuel cycle is often the responsibility of women in developing countries whose households rely on biomass fuels, switching to LPG can have a profound impact.
In communities where LPG cooking stoves have been introduced, women have reported decreases in time preparing meals due to greater stove controllability faster cleaning and no need to collect firewood. In some regions, this can represent more than 4 hours, each day.
About half the world’s households cook daily with solid fuels, biomass or coal. The simple stoves found in the developing world are often not much more than open fires. Burning these fuels in such basic stoves typically produces substantial health-damaging air pollution. In many cases, these stoves are not vented to the outside and release their pollution directly into the living area. Switching to LPG has a dramatic impact on indoor air quality.
In areas of fuel scarcity, family diets can be obliged to shift to higher consumption of less nutritious but faster cooking foods, and the risk of infectious disease transmission can increase due to insufficiently cooked food and improperly boiled water. LPG can contribute to improved nutritional intake for all family members.
In addition to the increased earning potential of women resulting from decreased time collecting fuel and cooking, LPG availability presents other opportunities in women-run micro-enterprises. Although other fuels, such as diesel, can of course be used to energize women’s income generation activities, LPG offers unique advantages, and its higher cost can be more easily justified in a commercial context.
These LPG applications are a few examples of ways in which the use of a transitioning fuel can ease the burden of women’s household duties as well as increase their economic potential in small-scale industries. The entrance of women into the market can have a positive feedback effect whereby money earned will be invested in household items to further aid in the completion of household tasks, freeing more time for money-generating or leisure/community activities.
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