More concerns have emerged on the health implications of household air pollution. According to latest figures from the World Health Organisation (WHO), 4.3 million people a year die prematurely from illness attributable to the household air pollution caused by the inefficient use of solid fuels for cooking.
Among these deaths: 12 per cent are due to pneumonia, 34 per cent from stroke, 26 per cent from ischaemic heart disease, 22 per cent from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and six per cent from lung cancer.
According to the WHO, around three billion people still cook and heat their homes using solid fuels (that is wood, crop wastes, charcoal, coal and dung) in open fires and leaky stoves. Most are poor, and live in low- and middle-income countries. The WHO noted that such inefficient cooking fuels and technologies produce high levels of household air pollution with a range of health-damaging pollutants, including small soot particles that penetrate deep into the lungs. In poorly ventilated dwellings, indoor smoke can be 100 times higher than acceptable levels for fine particles. Exposure is particularly high among women and young children, who spend the most time near the domestic hearth.
To address the issue in Nigeria, the Federal Government and a pro-health non-governmental organization, Africare, have recommended Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) otherwise known as cooking gas, as much healthier and cheaper option than other means of cooking in Nigeria,
They argued that despite recession and inflation being experienced in the country, households would save more and prevent so many chronic diseases if they use cooking gas rather than charcoal, fire woods, sawdust or kerosene.
Funded by the Global Alliance for Clean Cook-stoves (GACC), the Upgrade to Gas project is an unbranded, evidence-based behavior change communication (BCC) campaign to promote the switch from the dominant dirty cooking fuels (that is kerosene or firewood/charcoal) by stimulating increased demand for LPG cook-stoves and fuel in Nigerian households. A consortium of partners is implementing the project, namely: McCann Global Health, Africare Nigeria, and STB McCann. Ensuring universal access to clean fuel and technologies is a target of the Sustainable Development Goal on energy (SDG 7). If this target is met it could prevent millions of deaths and improve the health and well-being of the billions of people relying on polluting fuels and technologies for cooking, heating and lighting.
Special Assistant to Minister of State for Petroleum on Refineries, Downstream and Infrastructures, Brenda Ataga, said at an enlightenment campaign on switch from other means of cooking to LPG, that Federal Government was taking drastic measures to ensure each household in the country afford and have adequate quantity of cooking gas it needs. The campaign is tagged: “Upgrade to Gas.”
At the event, which took place in Nyanya, Abuja, and sponsored by Africare, Ataga told large gathering of residents of the community: “What are we doing as Federal Government? We have launched an initiative, that is, the DLPG project, the domestic LPG Penetration Plan. I will like to commend the laudable effort of the Federal Executive Council to approve the gas policy, which consists of the LPG Plan for domestication of LPG. With this initiative, we are hoping that: one, the structure to support LPG penetration is executed statutorily within the law…
“The second step: we have looked at the area of availability. If gas is not available, the price is not going to come down. What are we doing? We have launched the rehabilitation programme. LLNG is partnering with NNPC to rehabilitate the jetty. We are looking at all the infrastructure for receiving gas, LPG specifically, so that gas becomes available. We are also seeking partners, investors to come in and build gas terminals so that there are multiple sources of supply for gas.” She explained that planned modular refineries by the Federal Government would increase LPG supply in the country. She said government “wants the country to be a nation that is predominantly filled by gas, hydrocarbon converted to gas; a gas-based industrialized nation; that is what the vision of this administration is.”
Manager, Liquified Petroleum Gas, Pipeline and Product Marketing Company (PPMC), Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Abuja, Engr. Dogara Gyet, said at the event that the NNPC was taking drastic steps to crash gas price. “Between now and December, you will see the impacts. NNPC is already expanding and rehabilitating our facilities at Apapa, Lagos. The aim is to send in more volumes of LPG into the domestic markets. Even the price is nose-diving, between now and December, you will see a remarkable change,” he said.
Speaking on gas use in the country in the past two or three years, Gyet said there had been remarkable increase in the utilization of gas. “Before now, enlightenment was the major problem. There were people, who were afraid to use gas, but with what has been happening, the public is aware of the advantages of the use of gas and the percentage is actually going up. I can say the percentage is 37 percent within the past three years,” he said. He pledged that NNPC would never allow adulterated gas into the market, and that unlike other products; it is very difficult to see adulterate gas, “though the gas people import, like the one imported from Niger Republic is lighter, but Nigerian gas is heavier. That is why people buy Nigerian gas. It is more of C4 and it is heavier.”
According to him, it would be difficult for the common man to differentiate between light and heavy gas, “but the sincerity rests on the shoulders of the marketers. And, we insist that they patronize our gas.”
Country Director, Africare Nigeria, Dr. Orode Doherty, said of the event which would also hold in Bwari Area Council in Abuja and selected communities in Lagos State: “We are here to launch the upgrade to Gas campaign in Abuja. Africare is part of the consortium that is working with the global alliance for clean cook stoves to implement the roll out of Upgrade to Gas campaign. The reason we are doing this today is actually to encourage Nigerians to switch from dirty fuel, fire woods, charcoal, kerosene and the likes and use cooking gas, that is liquefied petroleum gas.
“As you know, Nigeria is a gas country. We have abundance of this wealth under our soil. Essentially, for decades, Nigerian women have cooked with alternatives to gas. But, the Federal Government has recently rolled out a national gas policy, and it is expecting that Nigerians would switch to gas. 20 million households are expected to be reached within the next five years. Essentially, what we are doing is rolling out a behaviour change communication strategy campaign.”
The Guardian News