East Africa Clean Cooking

Impact Program East Africa


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A majority of the population in East Africa still uses traditional fuels like charcoal and wood for household cooking. This causes severe health issues and gender inequalities. It also harms the environment and contributes negatively to climate change. On a global level, 2.4 billion people are exposed to dangerous levels of household air pollution. Rwanda and neighboring countries, including Kenya, Uganda, and Burundi, now aim to reduce the use of traditional cooking fuels and focus on clean cooking alternatives.

In Rwanda, East Africa Clean Cooking consortium partners are working on an affordable, green, and clean cooking solution – a combination of clean (gasifying) cookstoves and wood pellets. To create as much impact as possible in East Africa and offer a sustainable solution, the consortium focuses on developing a sustainable and circular value chain and ecosystem, community awareness, capability development, and capacity building. Besides Rwanda, an international scaling and replicating strategy will be developed, as well as R&D and innovation toward even more sustainable compositions of the wood pellets for clean cookstoves.

Need for action

To solve the societal, health, environmental and economic issues, the Rwandan government has a target of reducing traditional biomass use for cooking by 50% as of 2024, and a full stop of traditional biomass cooking in 2030. However, the country is not on track to achieve these targets.
Besides Rwanda, nearby and neighboring countries, such as Kenya, Congo, Uganda, and Burundi, have similar challenges. The initiative by the East Africa Clean Cooking consortium partners has already reached parts of these regions.
In addition, the Dutch government has the ambition to help 100 million people in emerging countries with access to clean renewable energy, including pellet-based cooking solutions, by 2030.

Societal and economic opportunities

Traditional charcoal production and usage for cooking leads to severe negative health and environmental impacts. Every year, 7,500 people die in Rwanda due to indoor air pollution. These negative health impacts disproportionately affect women and children, as the burden of cooking under harmful conditions tends to fall more on them, compared to men, which contributes to gender inequality. In addition, traditional charcoal usage is highly inefficient, leading to environmental problems such as deforestation, landslides, carbon emissions, and climate change.

In addition, charcoal is an expensive fuel compared to pellets, and firewood collection contributes to time-poverty and physical injuries. Existing evidence suggests that the adoption of clean cookstoves reduces the time spent by households in collecting firewood and it reduces their fuel expenditures.
Responding to the urgent need for clean cooking alternatives, the program tackles these societal, health and environmental challenges by creating a sustainable ecosystem around clean cooking. Provided there’s a sustainable, integrated approach, the clean cooking development can generate optimal, local impact and improve health conditions, decrease carbon emissions, and contribute to reducing climate impacts. Examples include local community involvement and awareness in the form of training and demonstrations, stimulating knowledge sharing between local and international institutes, and improving local manufacturing methods and technical capacity.

Besides committing to good health and wellbeing (SDG 3), affordable and clean energy (SDG 7), and actions towards climate change (SDG 13), the East Africa Clean Cooking program creates green job opportunities, locally and internationally, and stimulates economic growth (SDG 8).

Public-private approach

To create a sustainable, circular, and green value chain and as much value as possible within the supply chain, connections between local and international players are necessary.
For instance, the new program will provide smallholder farmers with a market for their wood, and local entrepreneurs an opportunity to transport and process the wood pellets. Local SMEs will benefit through lower operating costs and a healthier cooking environment. Local pellet producers will receive training in quality control, production efficiency, etc., and all can access to Dutch technologies to stimulate sustainable economic growth. Local knowledge institutes need to be involved to stimulate knowledge creation and capacity building.

The program focuses on setting up a sustainable value chain and locally-owned ecosystem from a collaborative approach, in which the partnership expands in a sustainable way by combining local awareness and community building, technical capacity, innovation, and R&D of biomass fuel streams.


Partnership developer

Willem Moraal

Willem Moraal

+31 6 15 42 06 52
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Luud Lemmens

Luud Lemmens

+31 6 25 24 39 85
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Sustainable development goals (SDGs)

3: Good health and well-being
5: Gender equality
7: Affordable and clean energy
8: Decent work and economic growth
15: Life on land