Nigerians’ Transitioning to charcoal stoves and Matters Arising.

By Tosin Kolade, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

“Our ‘Joko’ charcoal stoves are a must have for everyone. Easy to use, cooks faster, use less charcoal and super durable.

“Because of its wall insulation, it concentrates all the generated heat onto the food that is cooking for even, and faster cooking.

“The big size sells for N21,500, while the small size sells for N15,000, We are not taking online orders for now only store pick ups”.

These and many more are what is available at online retail stores of a popular brand selling locally-fabricated kitchen appliances.

Many of these brands use different catchphrases and advertising strategies to draw attention to their products and in an impressive manner.

From using sponsored advertising campaigns online and the word of mouth and referrals, the advent of charcoal stoves and its acceptability among Nigerians cannot be underestimated.

Due to rising kerosene and cooking gas prices, a Mararaba resident, Hauwa Ladan notes a shift to charcoal stoves and firewood as primary cooking options.

She finds charcoal stoves economical and faster for family meals, advocating this alternative to friends and neighbors.

Ladan highlights the considerable impact of high cooking gas costs, adding financial strain to households in Nigeria.

According to a report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), cooking gas prices surge by 38 per cent hit ₦16,250 per 12.5kg cylinder in January 2024.

The NBS says there was a 3.55 per cent month-on-month increase in the average retail price for refilling a 5kg cylinder.

This surge in prices is accompanied by a 37 per cent increase in the price of 1kg of gas, which rose to ₦1,300 from ₦950 during the same period.

The blame placed by the Nigerian Association of Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers (NALPGAM) on LPG terminal owners for the high cooking gas prices underscores the complexities in the supply chain.

Industry watchers say such disputes may reveal challenges in distribution, storage, or pricing strategies.

Addressing these issues is crucial to stabilise and potentially lower cooking gas prices for consumers, the NALPGAM says.

President of the NALPGAM, Oladapo Olatunbosun insists that liquefied petroleum gas, popularly called cooking gas, has risen to at least N1,300 per kilogramme.

Indeed, the increased use of charcoal stoves and firewood in Nigeria poses environmental concerns such as deforestation, air pollution, degradation of ecosystems and other potential consequences.

Discussing the adverse effects of cooking with firewood, Dr Temitope Oyetunji, a family health doctor in Abuja, emphasised the dual impact on both users and the environment.

According to Oyetunji, the smoke from burning firewood poses health risks, leading to respiratory and heart diseases when inhaled.

He emphasised that the emitted smoke particles contribute to environmental pollution, impacting the ozone layer.

“The consistent use of firewood and other fossil fuels creates polluted air, affecting several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“They include SDG3 (Good Health and Well-being), SDG 7 (Affordable and clean energy), SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities), and SDG 13 (climate action)”.

The World Health Organization points out that fossil fuels, as major contributors to harmful emissions, significantly impact global health.

The WHO says 99 percent of the world’s population breathes air exceeding the organisation’s quality limits, posing threats to health.

Consequently, the WHO stresses the urgent need to reduce fossil fuel usage and implement tangible measures to alleviate air pollution.

Analysts say encouraging sustainable alternatives and efficient use of cooking gas could mitigate these environmental impacts and promote a healthier balance between energy needs and environmental conservation.

According to them, promoting sustainable practices, such as reforestation, efficient use of wood, and alternative energy sources, is essential to mitigate these environmental consequences.

An Environmentalist, Mr Newton Jibunoh, underscored the detrimental impact of tree felling for firewood in Nigeria, emphasising that it led to loss of biodiversity.

Jibunoh highlighted that deforestation significantly diminishes habitats for diverse plant and animal species, resulting in a notable decline in overall biodiversity.

According to him, the crucial role trees play in preventing soil erosion cannot be ignored, saying that their removal, as seen in the quest for firewood, can lead to diminished soil fertility and an increase in erosion rates.

He drew attention to the role of trees in absorbing carbon dioxide, noting that widespread removal of trees for firewood contributes to elevated levels of greenhouse gases, thereby exacerbating the challenges posed by climate change.

“The significance of trees in regulating water cycles cannot be underestimated, deforestation disrupts local hydrological patterns, potentially affecting water availability in the region.

“Many communities rely on forests for resources, as deforestation intensifies, these communities experience adverse effects on their livelihoods and cultural practices”.

In conclusion, experts advocate a shift to sustainable cooking practices in Nigeria due to escalating costs of traditional fuels like gas and environmental concerns with firewood and charcoal stoves.

They propose reforestation and alternative energy adoption to mitigate environmental impacts.

Additionally, they opined that fostering collaboration and addressing supply chain issues could stabilise and lower cooking gas prices, benefiting both the economy and the environment.

(NANFeatures)

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