Almost half the world still cooks its food with solid fuels, such as wood and charcoal.
The results are deforestation and black carbon, which contributes to global warming. And smoke-related disease kills an estimated 1.6 million people a year.
In war zones, the daily hunt for firewood can present families with terrible dilemmas, says Veronique Barbelet of the World Food Programme.
“You hear women in northern Uganda and places like that telling you, ‘My choice is between going out there and collecting firewood and being raped, or for my husband to go out and get killed, and I would rather go and get raped,’ ” she says.
For these and other reasons, the World Food Programme has turned to a small nonprofit organization called Aprovecho.
In a rustic research center near the railroad tracks in Cottage Grove, Ore., Aprovecho builds stoves that use minimal amounts of wood, don’t release much smoke — and are cheap enough for the Third World.