Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will announce on Tuesday a U.S. contribution of more than $50 million toward providing clean cooking stoves in developing countries to reduce deaths from smoke inhalation and fight climate change.
The U.S. funding, which will be spread over five years, is part of a Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves being started to combat a problem officials equate with malaria and unclean water in terms of their health impact worldwide.
Some 1.9 million premature deaths, mostly among women and young children, occur every year due to smoke inhalation from rudimentary stoves, which in many cases consist of a few stones and an open fire inside or outside a shelter, officials said.
Smoke from such cooking methods can lead to childhood pneumonia, lung cancer, bronchitis and cardiovascular disease while contributing to climate change through emissions of carbon dioxide and methane -- two major greenhouse gases -- and black carbon.
The new alliance to combat the issue groups U.S. government agencies with the United Nations Foundation, Germany, Peru, Norway, the World Health Organization and corporate backers including Morgan Stanley and Shell, among others.
"This is something that touches on climate, on health, on women's empowerment, on deforestation and on poverty," Reid Detchon, vice president for energy and climate at the United Nations Foundation, said in an interview.
He said the group would seek to create a market for cleaner, less-polluting stoves and fuels to supply some 500 million households worldwide now using inefficient and dangerous cooking methods.
India, south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa were areas in which the problem was most acute.
"You're not going to solve this problem with aid alone," he said. "You're going to have to create a thriving cookstove industry that can supply both stoves and fuels that people want and need."
Better technology is available at affordable prices. More efficient stoves can be purchased for $10 to $100, according to one senior U.S. administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of Clinton's funding announcement.
Doing away with subsidies and focusing on a market-based approach was part of a focused development strategy the alliance hoped would prove more effective than previous attempts to address the problem in the past, he said.
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