The Second Lady of Ghana and Global Ambassador for the United Nations’ Clean Cooking Alliance, Hajia Mrs. Samira Bawumia has assured women in the Jamestown community, a surburb of Accra, of intensifying advocacy for the reduction of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) to increase its adoption in Ghana.
The statement, made on her tour of some parts of Jamestown with the Administrator of the United States’ Environmental Protection Agency (US-EPA), Administrator Michael Regan is in line with her tireless campaign for cleaner, accessible, modern and affordable energy sources for cooking, including LPG.
According to Mrs. Bawumia, the tour was to provide the team, firsthand information on the prevalent cooking methods and fuel sources used by the majority of women for cooking, and the concerns from the usage of these fuels. This visit not only highlights strong Ghana-United States relations but also reflects a shared dedication to promote clean cooking leading to improved public health and sustainable living.
Jamestown, with its rich cultural and historical significance, served as the ideal setting, reflective of a typical Ghanaian community, suitable for this important exercise. The area, known for its vibrant community, faces challenges with traditional cooking methods that often rely on less sustainable and unclean fuel sources, including charcoal, firewood and tires.
The places visited include several households, two fish smoking facilities, a kenkey house and a banku joint; observing the methods and fuels used in preserving fish and preparing meals.
In her interactions, Mrs. Bawumia stressed; “Our women go through a lot of challenges to put food on the table, and cooking is the number one challenge. A lot of the non-communicable diseases are from unclean cooking, respiratory illness, blindness and all of that, so we’re committed to helping our women to help transition from firewood and charcoal to cleaner energy sources”.
She highlighted the importance of embracing more sustainable and health-friendly cooking practices. “Our traditional cooking methods are an integral part of our culture. However, it is essential to balance this with the need for environmentally sustainable and healthy practices,” she stated.
Unclean cooking methods account for nearly two-thirds (64%) of household air pollution. In 2019, about two hundred and thirty-six thousand (236,000) newborn infants estimatedly died of air-pollution-related causes in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the State of Global Air study.
Household air pollution accounts for an estimated four (4) million deaths every year. In Africa, indoor air pollution caused 697,000 deaths in 2019. The African Development Bank reports that the continent loses up to 2.4% of its GDP annually due to health problems caused by biomass cooking.
According to the Second Lady who also doubles as a champion of the World Health Organisation’s Health and Energy Platform for Action (HEPA), government is committed to increasing access to cleaner fuels through various programs, including its Cylinder Recirculation Model (CRM) project. The CRM is intended to resolve the challenge associated with the cost of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and making it accessible to all.
The tour also included a town hall discussion on alternative cooking methods and the potential for cleaner, more sustainable and environmentally friendly fuel sources for the local population.
Members of the delegation included the Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency of Ghana, Dr. Henry Kokofu; the United States Ambassador to Ghana, Ambassador Virginia Palmer; and the Chief Executive Officer of the US’ National Association for the Advancement of Coloured people (NAACP), Mr. Derrick Johnson.
At the United Nations Conference of Parties (COP28) in Dubai in December 2023, Mrs Bawumia and Ambassador Regan engaged in a fireside conversation hosted by the Clean Cooking Alliance to discuss the impact of unclean cooking on lives, livelihoods, and the environment, as well as the role of national governments in accelerating clean cooking solutions through deliberate programs and policies.
It is on this backdrop that, Ambassador Regan and his team are in Ghana to ascertain firsthand, the traditional cooking practices prevalent in Ghana and how they can be improved upon.
About the Second Lady
Mrs Bawumia is a relentless advocate for the wellbeing of women and children, over the years, through her not-for-profit organisation, the Samira Empowerment and Humanitarian Projects (SEHP). Through SEHP, she has supported about eight thousand (8,000) pregnant women in the East Gonja Municipality, North East Gonja and Saboba Districts of Ghana with essential birth kits to prevent maternal and neonatal mortalities.
Additionally, SEHP has trained about thousand six hundred (1,600) women in Wa, Walewale, Gushiegu and Chiana Paga in the Upper West, North East, Northern and Upper East regions in quality shea picking and processing. SEHP has supported many children and women in the areas of education, empowerment and health.
Mrs. Bawumia, was named the first of seven global honourees by Sustainable Energy for All (SEforAll), in partnership with Ashden, This was in recognition of her contribution towards mobilising action for the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7; the call for universal access to modern reliable, renewable and affordable energy for all by 2030.
She also received the Humanitarian Award by the Atlanta City Council for her tireless work on the many issues that affect families across the globe.