Interestingly I came across an article in Al Jazeera, about the health effects of using firewood to cook. Most people here in Sri Lanka including me, use firewood. I live on a farm, and I have a separate kitchen outside the main house where I use firewood to cook. As I live on farm, I have plenty of raw material including from the coconut trees, to fire the stove and most of the food is cooked on it, except boiling the milk, where sometimes, embers could fall in, and discolor the milk, so I use a gas stove for that. With a canister of basic 12.5Kg LP gas costing Rs2,400 it is not the lowest cost alternative in the kitchen.
At the moment I do not have an oven, a microwave or even a electric liquidizer, so I have to make do with just the electrics of the rice cooker, toaster and kettle, and tow burner gas one for emergency cooking in a rush.
The article in the link attributes lung ailments and heart disease to the use of firewood. However I believe that today, 80% of the population still use this form of cooking. Many people come to my property in Polonnaruwa to collect firewood.
I understand that people from all over the world, none of whom I bet use or are forced to use firewood to cook are attending a conference in Cambodia on the use of firewood for cooking, and will no doubt issue a warning or a recommendation.
I am told and I wish the Government will get involved in publicizing the cooker that maximizes the efficiency of the use of firewood. I do know that there is an environmental factor involved, and wish to know the intricacies of what and what not to do, and how to maximize on fuel efficiency and minimize both the damage to the environment and also to our health in our cooking process.
Despite the supposed move of Sri Lanka into the middle income state, as far as cooking is concerned, though many people do have a gas cooker, they are reluctant to use it other than as a fall back at times, when other alternatives are not available, rather than the cooking choice, due to the cost both of the unit, and also the availability of the cylinders, which have to be purchased from distances, and a three wheeler at a cost, has to be hired to bring it over. It is impossible to cart it in a motor cycle, now the poor man’s mode of transport which is an added disincentive for its use.
So let’s hope there is some practical guidance on the use of firewood, not suggest impractical suggestions of using other modes until it is practical and affordable.