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Cleaner Cooking with Charcoal in Kibera Informal Settlement in Nairobi, Kenya, and Its Implications for Livelihoods and the Environment

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Woodfuel that is unsustainably sourced and inefficiently used results in negative environmental and health impacts. This study assessed charcoal use and resultant concentrations of indoor air pollutants (IAP) in an urban informal settlement while cooking with a Jikokoa stove (an improved branded charcoal stove) and medium and small-sized artisanal Kenya Ceramic Jikos (KCJs). Fuel stacking was prevalent with charcoal and kerosene being used by 25% of the studied households. Cooking with a Jikokoa stove reduced charcoal consumption by 6.4% and 26% compared to small and medium-sized KCJs, respectively. The small-sized KCJ reduced charcoal consumption by 21% compared to the medium-sized KCJ. The Jikokoa stove reduced concentrations of carbon monoxide (CO) by 10% and 50% and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) by 6% and 77% compared to small-sized and medium-sized KCJs, respectively. The Jikokoa stove reduced carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations by 15.6% compared to the medium-sized KCJ. The small-sized KCJ reduced CO and PM2.5 concentrations by 45% and 75%, respectively, compared to the medium-sized KCJ. In summary, small-sized KCJs are more effective than medium-sized ones, and Jikokoa stoves more effective than small-sized KCJs, making it the stove of choice. The more efficient charcoal stoves are, the more charcoal consumption and IAP can be reduced, mitigating environmental degradation, climate change and health problems associated with smoke in the kitchen. There is need for participatory research to scale improved stoves and upgrade local practices as they are cheaper and already embedded in the cooking culture.

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