Malawi and Scotland have agreed to ramp up the use of energy-saving cookstoves, envisioning all households keeping hands off open fires by 2030.
Minister of Forestry and Natural Resources Nancy Tembo handed First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon a Chitetezo Mbaula, handmade in Malawi, shortly after signing the agreement on Monday evening at the UN Climate change conference in Glasgow, Scotland.
Users credit the cookstove with nearly halving the amount of firewood and fumes that go up in smoke while cooking in open fireplaces marked with three stones.
According to the 2018 Population and Housing Census, over nine in 10 households in Malawi cook using firewood and charcoal, a silent crisis that puts the country’s forests and human health up in smoke.
Besides, women and children endure long walks to fetch firewood and inhale fumes that claim a life every eight seconds.
According to the World Health Organisation, about 2.6 billion people cook using the polluting fires. The UN agency reports that each year, some four million people die prematurely from illnesses sustained by the slow shift towards clean cooking technologies.
Malawi and Scotland have pledged to provide all families access to cleaner cooking with proven solutions that meet local needs to all families by 2030 and make them count towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal: Sustainable energy for all.
They also promised to diversify and upgrade clean options for cooking and other needs for all by 2050 to reduce carbon emissions fuelling climate change.
“We do this to preserve our natural resources and forests, to combat climate change, to improve our health and our livelihoods and to play our part in the global shifting of mindsets,” reads the agreement in part.
During the signing ceremony, Tembo thanked the Scottish and Irish governments for supporting Malawi’s race to achieve its clean cooking targets, which has put two million cookstoves in use since 2012.
According to the minister, the government envisages five million cookstoves being in use by 2030 while rehabilitating 4.5 million hactares of degraded landscapes nationwide.
The minister also commended Scotland for putting climate justice at the centre of the crunch climate change negotiations underway in Glasgow, where President Lazarus Chakwera declared that wealthy nations have to pay a fee to least developed countries to clean up.
Before putting pen to paper, Sturgeon said the rising demands for greater financing from wealthy nations, who are the major emitters of gases that fuel climate change, to low-emitting poor countries that bear the brunt of climate-related disasters is by no means “an act of charity but an obligation and matter of reparation”.
She said: “Leaders from the global North must hear the voice of people affected the most by climate change around the world,” she said.
“Malawi and Scotland share history, but now we will have a shared future, a sustainable future where rich nations realise their responsibility to secure the future of the planet, especially low-income nations hit the hardest by climate change.”
Scotland also donated £50 000, which Tembo described as “a symbol of moral leadership likely to vibrate in other bigger nations”.
Earlier, the minister met with Irish Minister of State for Overseas Development Aid Colm Prophy to strengthen cooperation between Malawi and Ireland.
Ireland has announced a 3.5 million euro funding for least developed countries, including Malawi.