Baitadi- 95% households still depend on firewood to cook

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Despite the government setting a target to decrease the proportion of traditional energy consumption to 30 per cent by 2030 and promoting the use of improved stoves, electric stoves, and LP gas, a staggering 95 per cent of households in Baitadi continue to rely on firewood for cooking.

Recent statistics reveal that out of 45,191 households spread across the 10 local levels in Baitadi, a staggering 95 per cent still utilize firewood for cooking, relying on traditional smoke-emitting stoves.

According to the statistics on pre-disaster preparedness, which was released by the District Administration Office, Baitadi on Friday, it has been discovered that 95 per cent of households in Baitadi rely on firewood for cooking.

The statistics also reveal that 80 per cent of the houses in the district are constructed with crude materials such as stone and wood.

Chief District Officer Suresh Panthi emphasized that this data has been incorporated into the disaster manual due to its relevance in terms of earthquake and fire risks.

The availability of an electric stove remains nothing more than a dream for many residents in Baitadi. Presently, out of the total 45,191 houses in the district, only about 13,000 have access to electricity, leaving around 32,000 houses in darkness.

Even among households with electricity access, the prospect of having an electric stove remains unattainable and they live in the dark, unable to afford or access such modern appliances.

Despite the Chamelia River, which flows along the border of Baitadi and Dracula, generating around 40 megawatts of electricity and being connected to the national transmission line, around 32,000 houses in Baitadi still remain in complete darkness. The lack of access to electricity forces the majority of people in the area to resort to burning jharro (firewood of Pinus wallichiana) and tuki (traditional lamp) for lighting purposes.

Prem Bhatta, a member of the District Coordination Committee, Baitadi, expressed that the majority of households in the district continue to use traditional smoke-emitting stoves due to the local level’s failure to implement a programme for constructing improved smokeless stoves and sheds. He emphasized the significance of improving traditional stoves for cooking, stating that achieving this goal would be a significant accomplishment.

A few years ago, an NGO named Nimto conducted an improved stove programme in 15,000 households out of the total 45,000 households in the district. However, since then, the programme has not been able to sustain its efforts.

Bhatta said that the local government should prioritize and focus on initiatives to improve stoves and sheds in the area. Doing so would likely have a positive impact on the lives of the residents and help address the ongoing issues with traditional cooking methods.

Asthma has emerged as the prominent health issue among the 10 different diseases treated at Baitadi District Hospital, according to Jais Singh Badal, the hospital’s lab technician. During his examination of patients, he observed that asthma ranked high among the prevalent conditions. In the last fiscal year, the hospital diagnosed 173 cases of tuberculosis, he added.

Dr. Dipesh Shrestha, Chief of District Hospital, Baitadi, further said that asthma is not solely caused by wood stoves but also by factors such as improper diet, smoking, and drinking. This suggests that addressing lifestyle choices and environmental factors may contribute to managing the incidence of asthma in the region.

Source: The Kathmandu Post