Improved cookstoves to reduce household air pollution exposure in sub-Saharan Africa: A scoping review of intervention studies

PLoS One. 2023 Apr 27;18(4):e0284908. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0284908. eCollection 2023.


Household air pollution (HAP), primarily from biomass fuels used for cooking, is associated with adverse health outcomes and premature mortality. It affects almost half of the world’s population, especially in low-income and low-resourced communities. However, many of the ‘improved’ biomass cookstoves (ICS) aimed at reducing HAP lack empirical evidence of pollutant reduction and reliability in the field. A scoping review guided by the Joanna Briggs Institute framework was systematically conducted to explore and analyse the characteristics of cookstoves to assess the ICS available to meet the socio-economic and health needs of households in sub-Sahara Africa (sSA). The review searched Scopus, PubMed, Web of Science, EMBASE, Global Health Database on OVID, BASE, and conducted a grey literature search from 2014 to 2022 for all field-based ICS studies. In addition, user perspectives were explored for cookstoves analysed as available, affordable, and effective in reducing harmful biomass emissions. The search returned 1984 records. Thirty-three references containing 23 ICS brands were included. The cookstoves were analysed into seven categories: (1) efficiency in HAP reduction, (2) availability, (3) affordability, (4) sustainability, (5) safety, (6) health outcomes, and (7) user experience. Most (86.9%) of the improved cookstoves showed a reduction in harmful emission levels compared to the traditional three-stone fire. However, the levels were higher than the WHO-recommended safe levels. Only nine were priced below 40 USD. Users placed emphasis on cookstoves’ suitability for cooking, fuel and time savings, safety, and price. Equality in cooking-related gender roles and psychosocial benefits were also reported. The review demonstrated limited field testing, a lack of evidence of ICS emissions in real-life settings in sSA, heterogeneity in emission measurements, and incomplete descriptions of ICS and kitchen features. Gender differences in exposure and psychosocial benefits were also reported. The review recommends improved cookstove promotion alongside additional measures to reduce HAP at a cost affordable to low-resource households. Future research should focus on detailed reporting of study parameters to facilitate effective comparison of ICS performance in different social settings with different local foods and fuel types. Finally, a more community-based approach is needed to assess and ensure user voices are represented in HAP intervention studies, including designing the cookstoves.

PMID:37104469 | DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0284908


Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Generated by Feedzy