To achieve Zero Hunger, the delivery of food assistance must take into account the numerous safety, health, economic and environmental challenges associated with properly cooking it.
Every day, millions of women and children face serious risks trying to obtain the fuel they need to prepare, process and preserve their food. In humanitarian settings where resources are scarce, this means many women and girls have to travel long distances to collect firewood, exposing themselves to the risk of attacks and sexual violence. Pressure on shared natural resources also causes tensions between displaced people and host communities.
Every year, 4.3 million people die from health problems related to exposure to smoke from solid fuel cook stoves. Women and children are especially susceptible to the harmful consequences of indoor pollution as they are the ones who spend the most time near the cooking area. Vulnerable populations often sell food to buy fuel or undercook their food to save on fuel costs, thus jeopardising their nutrition. Much locally-produced food is also lost due to a lack of access to energy solutions to process and preserve it, including drying and chilling.
Dependence on firewood and charcoal to prepare meals also puts considerable pressure on the environment, contributing to land degradation and deforestation. This can expose people to more climate risks such as floods and droughts, increasing vulnerability to climate change as these events becomemore frequent and intense.
Through the provision of modern cookstoves, alternative fuels and effective cooking practices, the World Food Programme (WFP)’s SAFE initiative seeks to meet the energy needs of displaced people worldwide while protecting both populations and the environment in which they live.
The SAFE initiative also creates alternative livelihood opportunities by employing women and members of vulnerable communities in building, promoting and commercializing fuel-efficient cookstoves as well as in other income-generating activities.
By 2016, WFP’s SAFE programmes had reached more than 6 million people in countries such as Ethiopia, Haiti, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Uganda. WFP is aiming to expand SAFE programmes with a goal of reaching 10 million people by 2020.
WFP is also a leading member of the SAFE Humanitarian Working Group, a consortium of humanitarian agencies and NGOs whose mission is to facilitate a more coordinated, predictable, timely and effective response to the fuel and energy needs of crisis-affected populations. WFP has also been a partner in developing EnergyCOP, an online platform providing a space to share knowledge and collaborate on energy access in humanitarian settings.