The Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency of the United States, Adm. Michael Regan, and his team visited Ghana on Jan. 29, 2024, to learn about the country’s efforts to promote clean cooking and reduce the health and environmental impacts of unclean cooking fuels.
The delegation was led by the Second Lady, Hajia Samira Bawumia, who is also the UN Ambassador for the Environment and Clean Cookstoves. They met with some of the hardworking women in Jamestown, one of the oldest districts of Accra, who shared their experiences and challenges of cooking with traditional fuels such as charcoal and firewood.
About 70% of Ghanaian families rely on wood, charcoal, or plant waste to make fire for cooking, which is part of a global trend where nearly three billion people use traditional cookstoves and fuels. However, these methods are not only inefficient, but also harmful to health and the environment. According to the World Health Organization, the smoke and pollution from traditional cooking causes about four million deaths every year, which are preventable if people switch to cleaner and safer cooking solutions such as the LPG.
During the visit, the women expressed their gratitude to the Second Lady and the US Ambassador to Ghana, Stephanie S. Sullivan, for their visit and support. However, they also voiced their concern that the expensive nature of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) leaves them with no option but to rely on traditional cooking methods, despite being aware of the health dangers unclean cooking poses.
The Second Lady assured them that she would work with them to bring down the cost of LPG and help them transition to cleaner energy sources.
“Our women go through a lot of challenges to put food on the table and cooking is the number one challenge. A lot of the noncommunicable diseases are from unclean cooking, respiratory diseases, blindness, and all of that, so we are committed to helping our women transition from firewood and charcoal to cleaner energy sources,” she said.
The delegation also toured the Blue Ocean LPG facility in Kpone, a state-of-the-art plant that bottles LPG cylinders for distribution to consumers at specialized retail outlets. The plant is part of Ghana’s Cylinder Recirculation Model (CRM), a policy that aims to increase access to safe, clean, and affordable LPG for 50% of the population by 2030.
Adm. Regan praised Ghana’s leadership and innovation in the clean cooking sector and assured his support for the country’s transition to cleaner and more sustainable cooking solutions. He said he and the Second Lady shared a common vision of promoting clean cooking stoves all over the world and that she was a great champion for this cause.
He also emphasized the universal right to clean cooking, stating that regardless of one’s location or status, everyone should have access to it—a cause they passionately champion.
“Everyone should have access to clean cooking, no matter who you are or where you live. All of our children are important, so we want to be a force in terms of transitioning from dirty cooking to clean cooking,” he said.
The US Ambassador to Ghana said the visit was a result of the Second Lady’s invitation to the US EPA Administrator to come and see for himself what the people of Ghana are doing to move from the old-fashioned to the cleaner cookstoves.