Women who cook with firewood, charcoal, or kerosene are 50% more likely to be depressed, according to a new study

Women who cook with firewood, charcoal, or kerosene are 50% more likely to be depressed, according to a new study
  • The study surveyed more than 1,100 household women who cooked and lived in urbanising communities in Kenya, Cameroon and Ghana.
  • The study found that women whose homes did not have electricity for lighting also had a 40% higher chance of being depressed than those with electric lighting.
  • The study also linked longer cooking time with lower mental well-being among women.

As the number of poor people continues to rise in Sub-Saharan Africa, new research is giving us a deeper look at how cooking with ‘dirty’ fuels affects the mental health of women in this region.

The new survey examined how the lack of access to clean energy for cooking affects mental health in low- and middle-income countries.

By surveying more than 1,100 household women who cooked and lived in urbanising communities in Kenya, Cameroon and Ghana, the study surmised that women’s mental health might be more likely to suffer from using biomass fuels than men’s as they are traditionally in charge of preparing and cooking food in these countries.

The study revealed that women cooking primarily with charcoal and wood had approximately 50% higher odds of likely depression than those cooking with gas. The study also pointed out that women who had sustained two or more cooking-related burns during the previous year had approximately 150% higher chances of possible depression than those not burned.

Another critical insight from the study revealed that women whose homes did not have electricity for lighting also had 40% higher odds of being depressed than those with electric lighting. Furthermore, the report concludes that women who spend longer cooking are likely to suffer from low mental well-being.

“Our hope is that these studies will provide further motivation to speed up the clean household energy transition in low- and middle-income countries. Worldwide use of “clean” cooking fuels by 2030 is one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals,” the report's publishers stated.

These findings recommend that enabling households to cook and light their homes with modern fuels may positively impact women’s mental health.

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