Smoke-free indoors campaign gathers dust



ROLPA, Sept 4: The smoke-free indoors campaign has remained in limbo in Rolpa district.

It has been nine months since the campaign of ‘smoke-free house indoors’ has crossed its deadline, but still there are no signs of the campaign picking up momentum in the district. The campaign had to be completed within 2017.

Only 16 thousand out of around 43 thousand households in the district have installed improved cooking stoves in their houses. This shows that 27 thousand households have still not installed the improved cooking stoves in their kitchens.
The then District Development Committee (DDC) had decided that Rolpa would be declared the ‘smoke-free indoors’ district within 2017.

So far only one rural municipality ward each at Lungri and Runtibadhi, a single ward at Rolpa municipality and two wards at Triveni rural municipality have been declared as ‘smoke-free indoors’ settlements.

President of the NGO Federation’s Rolpa district chapter, Karna Bantha Magar, said that the campaign had made some progress as it was supported by various donor agencies in the past and blamed the present local level of neglecting the campaign now.

There are more than 300 campaigners in the district for promoting this campaign. They are paid anywhere between Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000 for facilitating in installing an improved cook stove at a house.

Traditional cooking fires are still used in more than half the households in Nepal. But they are a silent killer, with their smoky fumes responsible for the deaths of nearly 23,000 people every year, according to a study published by Practical Action.

The study report states that Government of Nepal was one of the first to recognize this problem and has a target to eradicate smoke from kitchens by 2017. As we approach this date, it is clear the target will not be met. The global shock, compassion and outreach in response to the devastating Gorkha earthquake of April 2015, which killed nearly 9,000 people, has inevitably diverted resources and attention, the report states.