– As Prepared –
Hamjambo, mabibi na mabwana. Habari za mchana!
Since 2009, the Mama Sarah Obama Foundation has worked to build strong households by supporting poverty-stricken families. Since 2007, Envirofit International has worked to reduce indoor air pollution through economically-sustainable enterprises in emerging markets. Together, these two organizations have done amazing things in Kenya to promote the use of clean cook stoves, empowering women as they work to build stronger foundations for their homes and families. I am honored to celebrate the success of this collaboration. Thank you to the Mama Sarah Obama Foundation and Envirofit for the invitation to join you today.
Indoor air pollution – pollution from traditional cook stoves – is a problem that affects millions of people around the world, but it is a problem that gets too little attention. If you have experienced smoke from an open fire or poorly functioning stove indoors, in a home or a school kitchen, you know the smell and soot in the air is unforgettable. Over time, breathing in that toxic smoke puts you at risk for cancers, pneumonia, and other respiratory infections. Indeed, it can kill you. And those who suffer most are women and children, because women are the ones tending to the family meal and school children often study by the weak light of an open flame.
All of us are stewards of our environment, and we have a responsibility to protect the health and well-being of our families and of future generations. Improving the health of our children allows them to perform better in school, become productive members of society, and live longer, healthier lives. Raising healthy kids means a smaller burden on the health sector and a stronger economy.
Clean cooking solutions are a simple, direct way to solve the problem of unhealthy indoor air and improve the lives of millions of people, while also reducing fuel consumption. To promote clean cooking, Envirofit unites clean energy research with consumer-driven product design. They now produce over 100,000 stoves annually and have a presence in over 20 countries in Africa. Kenya is Envirofit’s production base for all of Africa. The investments made here have improved the lives of more than one million Kenyans and have generated more than 1,000 jobs in Kenya alone.
I was fortunate to participate in Envirofit’s launch of their institutional stove at Makini School back in March. I was very impressed by the demonstration Envirofit gave us – the stoves reduce fuel consumption by 90 percent!
Today’s event is another significant achievement for both Envirofit and the Mama Sarah Foundation, but is also a significant event for Siaya County and the women in this room. Because of their partnership, this site will serve as a demonstration center for others to learn about clean cooking solutions, creating jobs and distributing efficient, safer technologies to the Kenyan people.
The United States has a long history of supporting the clean cookstove sector in Kenya. From the launch of the Global Alliance by former Secretary of State Clinton in 2010 to the American companies working here, the United States is committed to supporting the development of a robust market for clean and healthy cooking solutions in Kenya. The United States is also committed to addressing some of the health concerns related to indoor air pollution. Last year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, in partnership with the Kenya Medical Research Institute, conducted an evaluation that looked at performance and acceptability of improved stoves in Kenya. CDC is looking at taking this research a step further to determine whether there has been a reduction of respiratory diseases due to improved indoor air quality so we can quantify some of these benefits.
The United States has been a strong partner to Kenya for the past 50 years. We have worked together on countless initiatives and projects during that time to improve the health and livelihoods of Kenyans and strengthen the Kenyan economy. Today’s launch, and the clean cook stove movement in general, is a good example of how the United States and Kenya, and the public and private sectors, continue to make positive changes for millions of people. We look forward to making these partnerships even stronger in the coming years.
I would like to thank the Mama Sarah Obama Foundation and Envirofit again for their extraordinary work, and to congratulate them on this event. The United States is proud to be a part of this important work. Keep up the good work.
Thank you. Asenteni sana.