September 22, 2021, Wednesday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

Discussion held on household energy for better health

The Nepal Weekly
August 25, 2021

Household Energy Assessment Rapid Tool (HEART) Report

An online discussion on Household Energy Assessment Rapid Tool (HEART) Report on Clean Household Energy and Health of Nepal was held in Kathmandu on August 20, 2021. The event was organised by Indoor Air Pollution and Health Forum Nepal (IAPHF-Nepal) with support of Ministry of Health and Population and World Health Organization.

On the occasion, experts and professionals elaborated on various aspects connected with indoor pollutions, impacts on public health, remedies and effectiveness of activities in Nepal taking available renewable energy technologies in focus. 

The experts highlighted that there are several legal frameworks related to clean household energy, indoor air quality control and health facilities ranging from the Constitution of Nepal 2015, which is the country’s most important policy to regional, local plans and programmes. The National Health Policy, 2019 is introduced with the primary goal of improving public health by strengthening primary health care services and making modern medical facilities available. Similarly, Second Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) 2020 has activity-based targets and policy targets such as ensuring 25% of households use electric stoves as their primary mode of cooking by 2030, install 500,000 improved cook stoves and additional 200,000 household biogas plants by 2025.

There are several existing barriers and challenges to adopting clean household energy. Along with a coordination and policies barrier at the institutional level, there are inevitable social and geographical barriers, lack of information and contextual evidence on the risks of traditional cook stoves. Moreover, there is fragmented and limited scientific knowledge and understanding, which needs to be regularly updated. Despite these challenges, there are always an opportunities to increase the access to clean household energy which is critically significant for economic, social and sustainable growth. There are a variety of demographic factors, accessibility, behaviour and socio-economic conditions that play an important role in the choice of household’s fuel. Robust legal and regulatory approaches should be endorsed by the government institutions and implemented in collaboration with all stakeholders with the input of all actors. Nevertheless, to implement the legislation, the legal system must be clear and straightforward, with enforcement 3 actions that can be contested to litigation, grounds for public appeal and mandatory reporting of issues.

Access to more efficient energy as clean cooking solutions such as e-cooking and LPG in the urban areas, and biogas and improved cookstoves in the rural areas can significantly reduce exposure to indoor air pollution. Therefore, the use of solid fuels should be discouraged by providing incentives and nudging public behaviour and preferences.

Clean and secured energy resources are necessary for the households to prevent the potential effects of indoor air pollution on health and quality of life. In order to decrease the use of solid fuels, affordability issues, financial tools and policies are necessary to be executed. Governments must prioritize clean-household energy solutions and plans to increase access to clean and modern cooking energy. Despite several initiatives and regulations for promoting clean household energy, air pollution-related diseases are ever-increasing. The policymakers and professionals from relevant sectors need to contribute collectively toward this growing problem. Indoor air pollution is an inter-disciplinary and inter-sectoral concern that makes it more difficult to decide who, within an institutional framework, should take responsibility. Accordingly, steps must be taken to define organizations to undertake the duty and to develop the coordination of an appropriate framework. However, the reduction of air pollution especially, indoor air pollution is critical to attend SDG goals (particularly SDG 3 and SDG 7) and maximize health benefits, while development of the cook stove sector supports the government in fulfilling its global and national commitment. The Household Energy Assessment Report Tool (HEART) Report prepared summarises the findings of a rapid assessment that describes national experiences and readiness to address household energy and its corresponding health concerns, as well as a mapping of relevant stakeholders in the health, energy, and other sectors.