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Opinions of Friday, 17 March 2017

Columnist: Amoah, Anthony Kwaku

Protecting the environment: INSPOCCE in focus

By: Anthony Kwaku Amoah


The task of providing quality education to students requires effective partnership and participation of all stakeholders, including donor bodies. This article does not have the métier to list all the organisations which are supporting the Ghana Education Service (GES) to deliver quality education to the Ghanaian child.

The author, however, calls for applause for the World Education, Inc. (WEI), the Global Alliance for Clean Cook-stoves (GACC) and the Ghana Alliance for Clean Cook-stoves (GHACCO), at least, for the sake of this write-up. In fact, they are working seriously with GES, the Ministry of Energy and the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment to develop what is called, “Integrated School Project on Clean Cooking Energy (INSPOCCE)”.

The essence of INSPOCCE is to imbibe in pupils the knowledge of using clean and efficient household cooking solutions which will protect the environment and improve livelihoods.

The rate of household-energy consumption in Ghana

According to the draft Teachers’ Manual on INSPOCCE (n.d.a), energy, although not being featured prominently in the Millennium Development Goals, has made undisputed contributions to human life and so has now been captured clearly among the Sustainable Development Goals.

The International Energy Agency, IEA (2011) says about 1.3 billion people lack electricity and 2.7 billion people relying on traditional biomass for cooking and heating with more than one-third of a household’s budget servicing fuel costs in many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Having recognised the need for better access to affordable, sustainable and environmentally sound energy resources and services, the United Nations General Assembly declared the year, 2012, as an International Year of Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL)by calling on member states, including Ghana, to raise the awareness of citizens of the need to address energy issues and to promote action(s) that protect the environment locally and globally.

The Ghana Living Standards Survey (2014) informs that 72.8% of households use wood fuel and charcoal (that is; 41.3% on wood fuel and 31.5% on charcoal). It adds that 22.3% use Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) with 43.6% and 35.8% of urban dwellers using charcoal and LPG respectively as their cooking fuels.

Reports also say over 52.7% of households in Accra alone use LPG compared to 28.0% of those in other urban communities with 74.8% of rural households on wood fuels and 16.5% on charcoal.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (2015) believes that over 50% of wood fuel harvested globally satisfies household energy needs as developing countries contribute 75% of the harvested wood fuel to households for cooking, heating and for lighting.

Negative effects of using traditional biomass

Findings say the over-dependence on traditional biomass, such as wood fuel, for cooking, heating and lighting comes with its own challenges for the environment and human health.

The draft Peer Educators’ Session Manual on INSPOCCE (n.d.a) says the cooking method of using woody biomass as fuel has affected the health, environment and economic livelihoods of users, their immediate localities through national to global extents, and that, “The risk of female household members exposed to indoor smoke suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases or heart-related diseases is three times higher than those who are not. They risk higher rates of deaths from lung cancer. As a cultural practice, fuel wood collection and cooking responsibilities limit the women’s capacity to advance or do other things.”

Bond (2007) has estimated the use of traditional biomass for cooking to have accounted for 18% of the global greenhouse gas emissions with IEA (2006) also stating that, “Although the collection of fuel-wood does not directly cause deforestation because the branches are mainly collected from roadsides or agricultural lands, the production of charcoal from fuel-wood burning has been proved to exacerbate land degradation in sub-Saharan Africa.”

The World Health Organisation (WHO) informs that an exposure to household-air pollution contributes to 16,000 deaths per year in Ghana with the same condition also to blame for the annual loss of 502,000 disability-adjusted life years (according to DALY, a standard metric used by WHO to read the burden of death and illness from specific risk factors).

The high demand for fuel-wood leads to Ghana having one of the highest rates of deforestation in Africa. In addition, the environmental impact of traditional cooking methods includes air pollution, with over 16,600 deaths annually as a result of exposure to Household Air Pollution and more than 21 million people being impacted by exposure to HAP each year (WHO, 2014).

The INSPOCCE and the environment

INSPOCCE, which is being funded by GACC, started in September 2015 as a pilot project involving 2,000 junior high students, 50 teachers and 18,000 community members in New Achimota, Odumase-Amanfrom, Kutunse, Fise, Sapeiman, Pokuase and Akotoshie in the Ga West Municipality of Greater Accra Region. It targets to reach more schools and communities in other parts of the country by August, this year, under an ongoing pilot extension programme.

The designers, partners and prospective implementers believe that by the time all field trials on the INSPOCCE project are completed, lessons learnt will have enhanced their chances of having to convince policy makers to consider incorporating the project into the basic school curriculum so as to help bring about the needed attitudinal changes in students, families and communities regarding clean-cooking solutions and household energy conservation practices.

Some seventeen officers of GACC and their collaborators, including the Curriculum Research and Development Division (CRDD) of GES, met recently at the GES Headquarters in Accra to review the progress of work on the INSPOCCE project with Mrs. Felicia Boakye-Yiadom, the Director of CRDD and acting Deputy Director-General of GES, as chairperson.

To make a shift from traditional cook-stove technology to a clean-cooking technology as a step towards protecting the environment and human health, a broad range of innovative cook-stoves, such as rocket cook-stoves, forced air stoves, Gasifier stoves, improved charcoal stoves, alcohol stoves, biogas stoves, electric stoves, LPG stoves, plancha stoves, solar stoves, panel solar cookers, box solar cookers and parabolic solar cookers with their fuel solutions like raw biomass, charcoal, ethanol, biogas, hydro-power, solar energy, wind and LPG, are being designed under INSPOCCE for the possible integration into the basic school curriculum.

It is, however, interesting to learn that of about 302 existing improved cook-stoves, only a few are available on the Ghanaian market as the INSPOCCE Peer Educators’ Session Manual (n.d.a) also thinks that the use of clean-cooking technology promotes efficient combustion and reduces the concentrations of particulate matter of burnt fuels in the atmosphere.

There is the need for us to contribute to the strengthening of all policies, laws and plans, including the Ghana National Climate Change Policy, Renewable Energy Law, National Energy Plan, Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda II, Ghana Sustainable Energy for All, National Policy of LPG Promotion and the National Electrification Scheme, so as to make them more responsive to our renewable energy requirements as a country.

The writer is an educationist and public relations officer of Ghana Education Service.