The recent revelation by the minister of environment, Sharon Ikeozor, that over nine thousand Nigerians die each year due to firewood related cooking is very worrisome. 9,000 is not just statistics, these are people who died in circumstances that could have been prevented in this century.
Culled from Leadership News
It is no longer news that so many people in rural homes depend heavily on firewood as the major source of heat and for the preparation of food. This common practice has left so many poor households with severe cases of lung cancer, with many of the victims wondering how they got the disease since they are not chain smokers of cigarettes. The problem of cancer related to the constant use of firewood has been on the rise in recent years. Women are mostly the ones affected by this illness, since they are the main household chefs in this part of the world.
Nigeria is a developing economy, no doubt, but the practice of cooking with firewood is quite archaic. For a nation that is number 17 on the list of top natural gas producing countries, it is expected that there will be a proper legislation that subsidizes cooking gas for the masses.
Culled from THE WORLD ATLAS
Even though, some environmental activists have certain reservations about the impact of natural gas on the environment, research has shown that it does not have much harmful impact on the ozone layer like other gases. Moreover, it is far better to cook with gas rather than cutting down trees for use as firewood, which has a more devastating effect on the environment.
The Way Forward
As a nation that is on the path of economic growth, policymakers should understand that growth and development are two different phenomenons. A country can experience economic boom, which can have little or no impact on the human capacity index and standard of living of citizens. While economic growth refers to the GDP output of a country, development and human capacity development has to do with the amount of social amenities that is available in a society.
Nigeria has been experiencing economic growth in recent years, but many people still wonder why the majority of households in the country still use firewood for cooking. This is simply because economic growth is different from development. The only way to balance this deficit is by using the tax gotten from the booming economy to build infrastructures.
If government can create or invest in critical infrastructures like the Mambila hydropower plant in Taraba state, it will provide millions of Nigerian households with electricity that can power electric stoves. On the other hand, Nigeria is an oil and gas producing country, the fact that many households cannot afford cooking gas is a serious issue that needs to be addressed.
Mambila Hydropower project
Image culled from Daily Trust
To understand what is going on in your country, you must first compare it to what is going on in other places. Turkmenistan is an Asian country that is a massive exporter of natural gas. This country has put in the proper legislation which enables every citizen of Turkmenistan to get cooking gas at a subsidized rate.
Free cooking gas for the entire households in Nigeria may sound like a socialist ideology, but it will go a long way in reducing the amount of cancer related deaths from constant firewood use.
Content created and supplied by: Legitimatenews24/7 (via Opera News )