The CLEAN-Air(Africa) Global Health Research Unit will implement a rigorous and diverse program of research and capacity building to accelerate change under the SDGs time horizon of 2030, focussing on developing and supporting strategies under Sustainable Development Goal 7 in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Unit will positively impact health, environment, climate, and gender equality in partner countries by investigating technological innovations to support rapid, scaled transition to clean modern energy for households and institutions.

Much of the research will leverage cutting-edge technology to conduct simultaneous stove use monitoring and air pollution (AP) sampling to document the impacts of the adoption of clean energy.

Clean energy transitions in households

CLEAN-Air(Africa) will investigate innovations with the potential to facilitate adoption and sustained use of clean cooking fuels for domestic cooks and achieve complete disadoption of polluting fuels, a behaviour associated with the greatest health and environmental benefits.

As well as quantifying health and environmental impacts using observational and experimental studies, the Unit will also examine hidden burdens related to gender inequality, cost savings, and food insecurity.

Hover over the images below to find out more about our projects.

Photo Credit: Ghislaine Rosa
The Unit will investigate the potential of a nutritional intervention (pre-cooked, vitamin-enhanced beans) and a technical intervention (pressure cooker) to facilitate exclusive clean cooking and its impact on health and non-health co-benefits in urban Rwanda.
Photo Credit: Daniel Pope
Similarly, In Tanzania, the Unit will investigate if behavioural interventions on their own, versus the use of pressure cookers, can achieve substantial dissipation of traditional fuels among PAYG LPG users.
Photo Credit: Daniel Pope
The use of LPG and other clean fuels is largely limited to urban and peri-urban settings, with rural areas being forced to continue relying on traditional and polluting fuels. The Unit will use a mixed-methods evaluation of a successful social enterprise in Kenya targeting rural communities and providing access to clean cooking to rural women via peer-to-peer microfinance women groups.
Photo Credit: PxHere
The Unit will be partnering with a well-established PAYG LPG provider in Nairobi, Kenya to investigate the potential of novel mobile phone-based behavioural text-messages to increase PAYG LPG consumption and reduce concurrent use of traditional polluting fuels.

Clean energy transitions in schools

With hundreds of kilograms of wood being burnt to prepare meals each day, schools, as well as other government institutions, are a big contributor to local deforestation and soil degradation, air pollution and global warming. The Unit will explore the potential for public institutions to transition to clean energy to positively impact health, environment and climate. The Unit’s focus on cooking in schools is particularly novel; the high levels of air pollution exposure experienced by school cooks and pupils offers high value for money in terms of population-level reductions in polluting fuel use. The Unit will also explore the potential for primary and secondary students to act as agents of change in their home environment and community.
Photo Credit: Daniel Pope
The Unit will carry out a comprehensive National mapping of clean cooking potential in schools across Kenya and Rwanda. This will include a descriptive evaluation of schools that have transitioned to cleaner cooking (e.g. LPG, Improved Cookstoves or other options).
Photo Credit: Daniel Pope
“The Unit will partner with national programmes supporting schools to transition to clean cooking to evaluate impacts on health, costs, nutrition and environmental preservation as well as to assess challenges and opportunities for scale in Rwanda and Kenya. We will also measure air pollution concentrations in kitchens, classrooms and playgrounds as well as exposures for school cooks and children.

Uncovering hidden health burdens from polluting fuels

CLEAN-Air(Africa) will uncover the hidden health burdens through a series of targeted research studies looking at burns, restricted lung function and HAP exposure.

Photo Credit: Sara Ronzi
Assessment of fuel and stove related burns and scalds in children and adults seen in referral hospitals and community primary care in Cameroon, Kenya and Uganda to understand the prevalence and severity of cooking-related burns injuries and preventive measures.
Photo Credit: Serena Saligari
Community study of restricted lung function and HAP exposure among different fuel users' groups in peri-urban Cameroon.
Photo Credit: Daniel Pope
In Cameroon, the Unit will evaluate how cardiovascular disease markers (including heart rate variability) might be reduced through clean cooking with LPG
Photo Credit: Daniel Pope
Measurements of HAP exposure among users of clean fuels vs polluting fuels, will be used to inform health modelling of population-level adoption of LPG to achieve national targets to replace polluting cooking fuels in Rwanda.