Over 95, 000 Nigerians die yearly from firewood smoke – ICEED

A non-governmental organisation working on the environment, Messrs International Centre for Energy, Environment and Development, ICEED, has called on the Federal Government to establish a National Cooking Energy Programme. The call was necessitated by the fact that about 95, 300 Nigerians die every year from smoke coming from firewood use.

The NGO which warned of the consequences of government’s poor funding of rural electrification, lamented that Government funding for rural electrification and cooking energy for poor people has declined over the years. These facts were contained in a recent study carried out by group.

The report warned that without a new national programme on rural electrification and clean cookstoves, the number of poor people in Nigeria will grow exponentially.

The study found that Federal Government budgets for rural electrification have consistently declined over the past decade. As Nigeria’s population grows, the proportion with access to electricity is declining. The study stated that the ongoing power sector reforms will deepen this trend should new national rural electrification programmes be launched.

The study warns of a deepening North and South divide in access to energy services. According to the report, “Northern Nigeria is consistently lagging behind in the proportion of households connected to the grid.

For instance, while almost all households in Lagos have access to grid electricity, over one million households in Kano are not connected to the grid. Families in the North are more likely to be dependent on firewood use than Southern families. The trend is the same for access to kerosene and cooking gas, Mr Ewah Eleri, Executive Director of ICEED said.

Continuing, he said: “Not only has rural electrification fallen out of the policy radar of the Federal Government, Nigeria has no history of tackling the crucial issue of cooking energy. About 95, 300 Nigerians die every year from smoke coming from firewood use. At 0.4kg/person, Nigeria has one of Africa’s lowest per capita use of LPG or cooking gas – a paradox for an LPG exporting country”.

The study called for the launching of a new National Rural Electrification Programme under the Power Sector Reform programme. It further called on the CBN and the Bank of Industry to set aside a proportion of the power sector intervention fund for off-grid power projects using renewable energy.

According to Eleri, “energy is a crucial element in efforts to grow incomes and escape poverty. Without an expansion of government programmes and private sector investments in providing energy for Nigeria’s poor, the transformation agenda will fail”.

By Jude Njoku – VANGUARD