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Household air pollution (HAP) is the world’s largest environmental source of ill health. Almost four million people die each year from burning wood and charcoal on traditional stoves or open fires and the use of kerosene lamps for lighting. In addition, the practice of burning crops contributes to ambient or outdoor air pollution. Further, over 300,000 people die from fire related injuries associated with these practices. To date, research in the field has mostly focused on one source of HAP, namely cookstoves.

This project  takes a broader approach and use lessons learned in the sanitation sector, applying them to a village setting to develop the concept of a smokeless village in Malawi. The project involves the community as active participants.  We are evaluating a range of behaviour change approaches used in the sanitation sector and reviewing the published evidence to identify cleaner methods for cooking, lighting and agriculture. We are also measuring indicators of household and ambient air pollution (HAAP) and using novel photographic methods, focus groups and a mapping process, to identify community sources of HAAP and potential sources of injury with the community.

We will share the knowledge gained with village members and help them develop an action plan to reduce HAAP, providing some financial resource to do so.  Findings will be integrated and shared with relevant stakeholders including policy makers, at regional and national level through a workshop in Blantyre. We are also planning to develop a toolkit that can be used in similar settings to encourage expansion of the smokeless village concept more widely.

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