A 48-year-old woman named Suman Verma Kujra has been cooking food for her family on a chulha (wood fire oven) for seven years thought the smoke coming out of it was harmless. Just like her, the other women of the Lohardaga district of Jharkhand also thought alike.
This perception changed soon when she attended a programme on air pollution and climate change on December 2, 2020. Kujra said that she got to know about the term ‘household air pollution’ for the first time in this program organised by a Jharkhand-based NGO. Till then the women of the Hendlaso village, about 80 km from the district, were unaware of household air pollution and its impact on health.
Kujra’s Awakening On Household Air Pollution
During the programme, the women were taught to measure in-house air quality and ways to reduce the impact of pollution. When she measured the air quality of her kitchen for the first time, the count of fine particulate matter PM 2.5, a pollutant, was near about 900 ug/m3 as against the normal range of 40ug/m3.
Kujra said that she was then informed that this range is extremely dangerous. She has constructed a window for proper ventilation in the kitchen. Also, she stopped burning plastics, and papers in the chulha to lower the pollution levels. She also started cooking on an LPG stove to minimise the use of chulha.
This alarmed Kujra about the numerous other households that were unaware of the situation. She then started a self-help group to spread awareness
Kujra’s Self-Help Group
Kujra now runs a self-help group (SHG) under the Jharkhand State Livelihood Promotion Society (JSLPS). JSLPS is a nodal agency for the implementation of National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) projects. Her SHG has reached 400 women till now and they have also joined the campaign against pollution.
A similar view was shared by Reena Oraon, a resident of Hariharpur village. Oraon shared the same that she was unaware of the household air pollution. She said that she will build a kitchen outside her living room so that smoke goes out easily. She has also joined the mission to make people aware of the health impacts due to air pollution in her village.
The smoke coming out of the chulha is known to cause various harmful effects such as eye inflammation, respiratory problems and heart diseases.
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