Last week Prof Tim Jones, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Liverpool, and Prof Fiona Beveridge, Executive Pro-Vice-Chancellor welcomed a delegation from the Kenyan Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) and the Office of the First Lady of the Republic of Kenya.
The two-day visit (on 14 & 15 June) was part of a summit hosted by the University of Liverpool’s NIHR Global Health Research Unit on CLEAN-Air(Africa) which aims to tackle the urgent issue of household air pollution in sub-Saharan Africa.
In sub-Saharan Africa, a substantial proportion of people rely on solid fuels (firewood, charcoal) for cooking and to heat their homes. However, the fumes they create are responsible for more than 680,000 premature deaths each year in the region. CLEAN-Air(Africa) aims to provide policy-relevant evidence to raise population awareness of the issue and to support prevention through the transition to clean fuels and energy for cooking. A 5-year partnership agreement signed in March 2023 between the University of Liverpool (Department of Public Health, Policy and Systems), the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) and the Mama Doing Good Foundation (an initiative of the Office of the First Lady of Kenya, Her Excellency Rachel Ruto) aims to help scale transition to clean cooking in Kenya by 2028 to benefit health, gender equality, the environment and the climate.
During the summit, critical discussions were held concerning the partnership’s role in providing evidence to national policy to meet Kenya’s ambitions to scale clean cooking to achieve universal access to clean modern energy by 2030 – number 7 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Dan Pope, Professor of Global Public Health at the University and Director of the NIHR Global Health Research Unit on CLEAN-Air(Africa) said: “The summit was highly productive. Interactive discussions highlighted the need for advocacy for clean cooking with liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in Kenya given resistance from donor organisations in the West to support promotion of a fossil fuel. The evidence shows scale of LPG for cooking is critical to prevent the 23,000 annual premature deaths in Kenya each year from exposure to household air pollution, without any impacts on climate.”
Dr Abdullahi Ali, Chair of the KEMRI Board who attended the summit, commented: “Clean, green renewable electricity is a long way away from the majority of Kenyans in the near and far future – the partnership needs to put public health at the forefront of decision making in Kenya and the region.”
Dr John Chumo, CEO of the Mama Doing Good Foundation said: “Her Excellency Mama Rachel Ruto is excited about the potential this partnership has for bringing clean cooking to the communities of Kenya.”
National Tree Planting
The partnership with the Office of the First Lady was launched in early June 2023, with Directors of CLEAN-Air(Africa) joining Her Excellency First Lady Mama Rachel Ruto at a national tree planting event in West Kenya – part of the country’s 15 billion tree plant initiative to address climate change. See more about the event here.
Here Professor Nigel Bruce, University of Liverpool and Dan Pope, write in more detail about the need for advocacy for clean cooking with liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in Kenya given resistance from donor organisations in the West to support promotion of a fossil fuel. Their article was originally published in The Conversation.
From Liverpool to Kenya
Recently Professor Pope, together with Dr Elisa Puzzolo, University of Liverpool and Dr James Mwitari, KEMRI, were joined by representatives from National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) and Department of Health & Social Care on a research trip to Kenya. Here they were given a tour of kwa Njenga primary school in Nairobi, and awarded prizes to pupils who had created drawings with the theme, ‘clean air for community health’. Read more about their visit here.
More about CLEAN-Air(Africa)
The NIHR Global Health Research Unit on CLEAN-Air(Africa) is a collaboration of international experts in environmental public health from the UK, Kenya, Cameroon, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Uganda. The partnership implements research, health systems strengthening, and capacity-building activities across the five focus countries with the explicit objective to address the health burden from household and institutional air pollution from reliance on polluting solid fuels (e.g., wood, charcoal, coal, and biomass) and kerosene.
Photo caption: Representatives from Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI); Office of the First Lady of Kenya/ Mama Doing Good Foundation and University of Liverpool.