The Niger State Government has launched the Safe Cooking Energy Programme. The programme seeks to extend the benefits of safe cooking energy to half a million households and small businesses over the next three years.
With support from USAID, Niger State has already installed highly efficient wood stoves in twenty six of its boarding secondary schools. This has reduced wood use by school kitchens to more than 80% and saves money and the health of cooks in school kitchens.
Niger State has approximately 1.2 million households, of which 73.6% households use firewood for cooking. Nearly 60% of these gather wood from the forests while about 15% buy them from the market. Only 22% of families use kerosene for cooking in Niger State. Less than 1% of households in Niger State use cooking gas . This situation causes a number of negative sanitary, economic, environmental and gender implications.
The newly launched Niger State Safe Cooking Energy Programme will replace traditional use of fire wood in the rest of public institutions with efficient wood burning technologies. It will build a stove production plant in the State and create over one thousand five hundred new jobs. The programme will empower women by training them to produce and sell stoves. It will also reduce the deforestation.
According to Dr. Mustapha Lemu, the Commissioner for Science and Technology, “Niger State will indigenise efficient wood burning technologies and this will contribute to industrial growth in the state. The programme will contribute to the transformation agenda of the Government of Niger State by stimulating economic growth and reducing impacts on health and environment”, he said.
The Safe Cooking Energy Programme is a partnership between the Niger State Government and USAID, the Nigeria Infrastructure Advisory Facility and the Nigerian Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. The Nigerian Infrastructure Advisory Facility will provide technical assistance to the implementation of the programme. USAID is already financing a project to extend the benefits of clean cooking to secondary schools in the State, while the Nigerian Alliance will provide financial resources to support the state in planning and expanding the programme.
In his presentation, Ewah Eleri, Executive Director at the Abuja-based think tank, International Centre for Energy, Environment and Development and a Team Leader at the Nigeria Infrastructure Advisory Facility, “We have lined up a solid partnership of donors to support the Niger State Government in its ambition to eradicate the harmful consequences of traditional cooking with wood. With our support, the state will become a model for clean cooking in Nigeria.
Niger State pioneered the efficient wood stoves technology in 2010 through a project in Government Girls Secondary School, Bida. Since then there has been an increasing national attention to issues of wood use for cooking in schools and other public institutions in the country.