Energy

Cleaner cooking is a human right.

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Had the pleasure of attending Cleaner Cooking Camp 2014 Open Day in Lilongwe on Friday. Organised by the multi-donor funded Discover Project, the event showcased various renewable and efficient cooking and household energy options available to Malawians, such as improved cooking stoves (locally known as chiteteze mbaula), biomass burners, paper briquettes, and different solar power solutions. Dignitaries held speeches on the importance of cleaner cooking solutions – reducing respiratory illnesses especially among women and children, as well as countering deforestation – while community actors involved in making and promoting improved stoves were honoured for their work with cash prizes. Malawi is a member of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves and has a goal of 2 million households using improved cook stoves by 2020. A locally made improved cook stove sells for around 1000 kwacha ($2.50).

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My first memory: Chernobyl.


Credit: D. Markosian: One Day in the Life of Chernobyl, VOA News, photo gallery.

This story in The Atlantic Cities about children living in the area near Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has jerked my memory. The story is about how children in the area affected by the nuclear disaster are kept indoors, and consequently seem to suffer from a variety of health ailments.

My first memory – ever – is the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. When it happened in 1986 I was about two-and-a-half years old: I distinctly remember being scared of going near the windows, and trying to figure our how our whole extended family would fit in my grandmother’s cellar (which measures about 1mx1m), where she used to store home-made cordial.

Ever since I’ve been fascinated, in a scared kind of way, of nuclear power. In lower secondary I did a project/exhibition about Chernobyl. Finland was one of the countries affected by the fallout, and some claim that radioactivity still persists, though I ate mushrooms throughout my childhood.

Interestingly though, Finland was not the country to first alert the world the Chernobyl disaster – that was Sweden. A quick Google won’t confirm this, but I’ve been told that’s because there was a general strike in Finland the day the radioactive fallout arrived, and the only person at the station where radiation levels were measured was a cleaner or janitor who simply turned the alarm off.

Even though I wasn’t really affected, the memory of Chernobyl has stayed with me to this day. I can only imagine what the children of Fukushima will remember.

The future is Fairphone.

fairphone

Photo credit: Fairphone

I love my Lumia 720, but my next phone will most certainly be a Fairphone. Produced using conflict-free resources, by a company committed to good, transparent working conditions and safe recycling practices, Fairphones stand out. They shouldn’t – all companies producing mobile phones should adhere to their principles – but they do. At €325 they’re not the cheapest, but the company says the price tag reflects the real cost of producing the phone, externalities included. Now, getting one isn’t quite as easy as popping into your local mobile phone shop, but the good news is that a second batch of Fairphones is currently being produced, and by signing up you can be the first to know when they are available. I’d sign up only I’m hoping to get a few more years out of my Lumia – no point contributing to e-waste even if it for moving to a less polluting alternative.

Wind farms baby, yeah.

Wind farms are the future. And no, they’re not ugly. And no, they’re not loud (I’ve slept under one). Yes, there may be some issues with wildlife. But now they can even stop hurricanes! Or so researchers suggest… Cool stuff. (And I’m sure the wildlife issues can be addressed.)

(Totally copied this pic from The Atlantic Cities site. So sue me.)

Solar jars are awesome.

Consol Solar Jar

Love my new Consol Solar Jar. It’s pretty and useful. And only cost just over MK8,000 (just under $20 I think; available at Chipiku in Lilongwe, but in other countries too given that the manufacturer is South African.) My only wish is that the light it emits was warm, and we’ll of course have to see how long it lasts, but so far, so lovely (especially given the frequent power cuts in LLW).