In 2010, 40.2% of households used fuelwood as main fuel for cooking, 33.7% used charcoal, and only 18.2% used LPG (Ghana Statistical Service, 2012). The demand for wood puts Ghana’s forests under tremendous pressure and has severe consequences for the ecosystem as a whole. Deforestation rates in Ghana are amongst the highest in Africa, with current levels of woodfuel consumption far exceeding forest growth. The charcoal production process contributes heavily to this deforestation and is responsible for high emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane. This is because charcoal is produced in simple earth-mound kilns with carbonisation efficiency below 20%, meaning that large volumes of wood are consumed to make it. An opportunity has arisen to encourage the deployment of efficient charcoal stoves to households in Ghana, reducing charcoal consumption and therefore alleviating the problems associated with its use. Some programmes have also been organized to train traditional charcoal producers on more efficient methods of charcoal production.
Additionally, air pollution from cooking with solid fuel is a key risk factor in childhood acute lower respiratory infections (for example, pneumonia), as well as in many other respiratory, cardiovascular and ocular diseases. In Ghana, exposure to indoor air pollution is responsible for the annual loss of 502,000 disability adjusted life-years (DALY, a standard metric used by the World Health Organization (WHO) to indicate the burden of death and illness due to a specific risk factor). The WHO also estimates that exposure to indoor air pollution is responsible for 16,600 deaths per year in Ghana. The foregoing issues underscore the need to intensify efforts to promote the use of modern energy for cooking, i.e. the use of cleaner fuels such as LPG, and improved cookstoves.