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Smoke free villages in rural Cambodia: a behavioural change approach

Clean cooking avoids children’s exposure to harmful emissions when cooking takes place. ©RVO/Enric Catala Contreras

To change cooking behaviour towards less smoke exposure and the use of sustainable fuels is the goal of the Smoke Free Village (SFV) initiative. The recent report shows positive results.

In Cambodia, 2 million households use firewood for cooking. The associated smoke exposure contributes to serious health problems and many diseases, leading to the deaths of an estimated 14,000 people in Cambodia per year, or 15% of total deaths. Many more lives, mainly those of women and children, are affected by smoke-related health conditions that reduce the overall quality of life. Further, the smoke emissions from open fires add to greenhouse gasses that are responsible for climate change. Cooking is strongly connected to gender inequalities at household level. Collecting wood, cleaning the pots, and tending the fire are all tasks that fall disproportionately on young girls and women.

Since 2020, EnDev, by SNV Netherlands Development Organisation, has applied a behavioural change communication initiative in rural Cambodia to change cooking habits from firewood use to modern cooking. Together with the 25 Commune Councils for Women and Children in four provinces, 200 “Smoke Free Villages” with a population of 36,000 are part of the project area. This report quantifies the results of this behavioural change approach for clean cooking in rural Cambodia, showing significant positive changes.

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Read the full report here.

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