propane tanks for cookstoves

Combatting household air pollution in Ghana with clean energy alternatives


Nearly three billion people around the world use traditional cookstoves and fuels. According to the World Health Organization, the resulting air pollution leads to an estimated four million preventable deaths per year. In Ghana, about 70 percent of households cook by burning biomass including wood, charcoal, and crop residue in open fires. Despite significant public and private investment over the last decade in efforts to encourage the use of clean cookstoves, new approaches are needed to achieve substantial improvements in air quality and health.

Focused on a region in Ghana with nearly 30,000 people, the hope of this project is to dramatically and measurably improve public health and contribute to women’s empowerment, economic development, and better environmental quality. If successful, this effort could provide lessons that can be applied throughout Ghana and the rest of Africa.


This project aims to increase community-wide adoption of clean cooking technologies that reduce household air pollution. To accomplish this task, we are conducting a series of assessments to understand the factors and conditions that could increase adoption: (1) a needs assessment, which entails a national household energy survey as well as community-level energy assessments to understand current energy usages and needs; (2) a behavioral assessment, aimed at understanding decision-making within the home and at the community level to encourage exclusive, sustained use of clean energy technologies; (3) an alternative energy assessment to develop a portfolio of clean cooking options — fuels, stoves, and practices — that together can replace traditional open fires and enable exclusive, sustained use of clean alternatives; and (4) an air pollution assessment to monitor the community air pollution outcomes of the proposed interventions.

The project attempts to identify broader energy system changes that support and sustain household- and community-level transitions. This entails a careful review of the current regulatory, infrastructural, and financial environment and the potential for targeted investment to encourage an energy system that favors clean cooking.   


This project is a collaboration with Columbia World Projects (Columbia University) and the Kintampo Health Research Center (Ghana Health Service, Ministry of Health). 

Combating household pollution with clean energy

In Ghana, Columbia World Projects is taking a new approach to reducing household air pollution.