A before-and-after snapshot shows the incredible impact of clean cookstoves.
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Gates Foundation: The Story of Food

Cooking dinner usually results in, well, dinner.  But for too many people, it can have a devastating side effect.

For the 3 billion people in developing countries who cook their meals over an open fire, dinner preparation can be a silent killer (and I don't mean from boring table talk).

In fact, it's one of the biggest — and least known — killers of women and kids around the world.


Image via Ed Brambley/Flickr (cropped).

Over 4 million people die every year from inhaling the toxic pollution from unsafe stoves.

Can you imagine?

Having to cook over an open fire — burning dung, coal, and wood for fuel — is comparable to smoking two packs of cigarettes a day. Not to mention how dangerous it is to live around an open flame every day. Clumsy or not, that's a recipe for burns — or worse.

Luckily, some innovative folks created a cookstove that's pretty incredible. It's saving the lives of moms and kids — and creating jobs.

Image via Esther Havens/The Adventure Project, used with permission.

These charcoal-efficient cookstoves, currently making the rounds in Kenya, are drastically reducing smoke from cooking fires and cutting in half the amount of charcoal needed.

They come from the folks at The Adventure Project, and the impact they've made so far is quite mind-blowing. You don't have to just take my word for it, you can see it for yourself:

Image via Esther Havens/The Adventure Project, used with permission.

The benefits of using charcoal-efficient stoves extend way beyond the food they help to prepare.

According to the group, every stove saves a family 20% of their daily expenses because they use 50% less charcoal per day. And it helps save them time too. In Kenya, the average woman can spend up to 30 hours a week just collecting firewood. But that's not necessary with a clean cookstove.

When Mary bought a stove, it meant her kids could finally go to school.

Image via Esther Havens/The Adventure Project, used with permission.

She no longer has to spend so much money on firewood, and now she's able to send her kids to get an education.

"I am using more money for school fees and buying house goods like food," she told The Adventure Project. "Although the school fees are quite an amount, I can pay them and save money. Every month I spent 1000 on firewood but now I only spend 400 shillings so I can save 600 shillings."

In less than two years, 17,876 charcoal-efficient stoves have been sold in Kenya.

According to The Adventure Project, these stoves have helped more than 89,000 people and saved over 107,000 trees from being cut down.

In other words, they're working.

And perhaps the best part is that The Adventure Project doesn't just give the stoves away. Their model is meant to last.

The organization invests in training people in Kenya, like this stove entrepreneur named Josephat, to make the stoves and sell them at an affordable price to their neighbors. And they make sure everyone is able to afford a stove, even the extremely poor, through low-interest loans. It creates sustainable local business.

Image via Esther Havens/The Adventure Project, used with permission.

Safe and reliable access to energy for cooking is a basic need.

And when you move past the top-line data points and measurements of a cookstove's immediate impact, you can't forget the human element it brings: Progress like this can help families bond and grow closer. Mary can attest to that.

"If they inhaled the smoke they would have very bad coughing and I feared for their health," she recalled. "Now, with the coal stove I can cook comfortably in the kitchen, my husband can finally sit in the kitchen with me and talk to me."

Image via Esther Havens/The Adventure Project, used with permission.

Our global food system is transforming for good — and we're only just beginning. The Adventure Project is just one group out there focused on clean cookstoves and taking small sustainable steps toward a better world.

Helping kids grow healthier, local economies succeed, and families lift themselves out of poverty ... all because of a stove? It's very much happening.

When the "Me Too" movement exploded a few years ago, the ubiquitousness of women's sexual harassment and assault experiences became painfully clear. What hasn't always been as clear is role that less overt, more subtle creepiness plays in making women feel uncomfortable or unsafe as they move through the world, often starting from a young age.

Thankfully—and unfortunately—a viral video from a teen TikToker illustrates exactly what that looks like in real-time when a man came and sat down with her while she was doing a live video. He asked if the chair at her table was taken, and she said no, thinking he wanted to take it to another table. Instead, he sat down and started talking to her. You can see in her face and in her responses that she's weirded out, though she's trying not to appear rude or paranoid.

The teen said in a separate TikTok video that the man appeared to be in his 30s. Definitely too old to be pulling up a chair with someone so young who is sitting by herself, and definitely old enough to recognize that she was uncomfortable with the situation.

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Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
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The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

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