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From kitchen to classroom: Assessing the impact of cleaner burning biomass-fuelled cookstoves on primary school attendance in Karonga district, northern Malawi

Kelly, Christine A., Crampin, Amelia C., Mortimer, Kevin ORCID:, Dube, Albert, Malava, Jullita, Johnston, Deborah, Unterhalter, Elaine and Glynn, Judith R. (2018) 'From kitchen to classroom: Assessing the impact of cleaner burning biomass-fuelled cookstoves on primary school attendance in Karonga district, northern Malawi'. PLoS ONE, Vol 13, Issue 4, e0193376.

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Household air pollution from burning solid fuels is responsible for an estimated 2.9 million premature deaths worldwide each year and 4.5% of global disability-adjusted life years, while cooking and fuel collection pose a considerable time burden, particularly for women and children. Cleaner burning biomass-fuelled cookstoves have the potential to lower exposure to household air pollution as well as reduce fuelwood demand by increasing the combustion efficiency of cooking fires, which may in turn yield ancillary benefits in other domains. The present paper capitalises on opportunities offered by the Cooking and Pneumonia Study (CAPS), the largest randomised trial of biomass-fuelled cookstoves on health outcomes conducted to date, the design of which allows for the evaluation of additional outcomes at scale. This mixed methods study assesses the impact of cookstoves on primary school absenteeism in Karonga district, northern Malawi, in particular by conferring health and time and resource gains on young people aged 5–18. The analysis combines quantitative data from 6168 primary school students with in-depth interviews and focus group discussions carried out among 48 students in the same catchment area in 2016. Negative binomial regression models find no evidence that the cookstoves affected primary school absenteeism overall [IRR 0.92 (0.71–1.18), p = 0.51]. Qualitative analysis suggests that the cookstoves did not sufficiently improve household health to influence school attendance, while the time and resource burdens associated with cooking activities—although reduced in intervention households—were considered to be compatible with school attendance in both trial arms. More research is needed to assess whether the cookstoves influenced educational outcomes not captured by the attendance measure available, such as timely arrival to school or hours spent on homework.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: WA Public Health > Health Problems of Special Population Groups > WA 395 Health in developing countries
WA Public Health > Air pollution > WA 754 Pollution and pollutants (incl. tobacco pollution; passive smoking)
WF Respiratory System > WF 140 Diseases of the respiratory system (General)
WF Respiratory System > WF 20 Research (General)
WS Pediatrics > WS 20 Research (General)
Faculty: Department: Clinical Sciences & International Health > Clinical Sciences Department
Digital Object Identifer (DOI):
SWORD Depositor: JISC Pubrouter
Depositing User: JISC Pubrouter
Date Deposited: 13 Apr 2018 10:27
Last Modified: 12 Sep 2019 13:07


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