Increasing Access to Clean Cooking in the Philippines: Challenges and Prospects

Replacing traditional methods of cooking using open fires and solid fuels with clean cooking solutions is an integral element of Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG 7), which aims to achieve universal access to modern, affordable, reliable, and sustainable modern energy for all. Reliance on inefficient cooking practices amplifies household air pollution (HAP). This practice brings about serious health and environmental consequences that impact about 4 million people who die prematurely each year from illnesses attributable to HAP. The Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP) and the World Bank estimated in a 2020 report that inaction in meeting the 2030 targets costs the global economy $2.4 trillion annually, with the health impact alone accounting for 58.3% of this cost. Thus, HAP does not only affect health but also have farreaching implications to development, affecting the overall goal of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Despite efforts to increase global access to clean cooking, the Tracking SDG 7: Energy Progress Report 2020 points to 2.8 billion people still without access to clean cooking as of 2018. Some 1.8 billion of these people live in Asia and the Pacific, per the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) Policy Brief. The slow progress in the deployment of clean cooking solutions highlights the need for identifying more specific interventions that would appropriately address the gaps at the country level.

The same 2020 SDG 7 tracking report has identified the Philippines as the country with the slowest progress, at only 8% from 2000 to 2018, in access to clean cooking among countries in Southeast Asia. While it is well-known that the use of traditional cooking fuels is a leading cause of household air pollution, the extent of this pollution and its impact on the health and environment of communities in the Philippines is not well established. This lack of information could be the reason for the apparent inattention given to the ensuing health and environmental issues from traditional cooking practices. Considering this situation, this study was therefore undertaken in the Philippines, to gather information on the current household cooking practices and to determine the impact of a potential shift to improved cooking technology and fuel use on indoor air pollution. The study will augment available information and knowledge about the extent of air pollution due to traditional cooking practices in the Philippines and foster understanding of the prevailing barriers and issues relative to increasing access to clean cooking. The results of the study could serve as constructive inputs to the development of specific policies to address the country’s slow progress in increasing access to clean cooking.

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