In small forest near Guldara district of Kabul, Shakila sits on a rock to rest after collecting wood for her cookstove. Her eyes water and she finds it hard to breathe, and a fit of coughing overcomes her.
Shakila is only 42-years old and a mother to six children. She suffers from asthma because she has spent a lot of time in her kitchen using a traditional cookstove, which emits a great deal of harmful smoke. The stove also consumed a lot of firewood, which was hard work for Shakila, not to mention damaging for the environment.
Fortunately for Shakila, things are improving. Thanks to UNDP, she now has a new energy-efficient cookstove which produces less smoke, cooks faster, and uses 65% less wood.
“The old stove was not just bad for my breathing; it also used a lot of wood, and I had to sit by it all the time,” says Shakila. Now that she is using the new stove, her family don’t have to find money for medicine or firewood, or spend time cutting down trees.
Studies have shown that air pollution causes 54,000 premature deaths each year in Afghanistan, and inefficient wood-fired cookstoves are a contributor to these deaths. More than 95% of people in Guldara use wood to cook their food, warm their houses and boil water.
That’s why UNDP has distributed 400 fuel-efficient stoves like Shakila’s around Guldara district at a subsidized cost, thanks to funding from the Republic of Korea.
The initiative is part of UNDP’s Afghanistan Sustainable Energy for Rural Development (ASERD) project which is being implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD) with generous funding from Republic of Korea.
The ASERD programme plans to establish sustainable rural energy services in almost 200 rural communities over the next four years, providing both electric and thermal energy. The project will bring sustainable energy to over 50,000 households.
UNDP’s focus is on helping Afghanistan build and share solutions to the challenges of environment, livelihoods, gender, rule of law, governance and health. UNDP has been working in Afghanistan since 1966 in close partnership with government, civil society, and other national and international partners.