Open access
26 October 2020
ISEE 2020 Virtual Conference: 32nd Annual Conference of the International Society of Environmental Epidemiology

Impacts of the COVID-19 Lockdown on Cooking Fuel Use Patterns, Income and Food Security in an Informal Settlement in Nairobi, Kenya

Publication: ISEE Conference Abstracts
Volume 2020, Issue 1


Background: Approximately 2.5 billion individuals use solid fuels (e.g. wood, coal) for cooking, exposing them to health-damaging household air pollution (HAP). A COVID-19 lockdown may impact the cooking habits, earning power, food security and health of millions of the urban poor living in informal settlements in low-income countries, Methods: Nairobi went into COVID-19-related lockdown on April 7, 2020. A telephone-based survey was conducted from April 20-30 to document socioeconomic impacts and fuel use among consenting participants (N=196) in the informal settlement of Mukuru kwa Reuben in Nairobi, Kenya. Change in cooking habits was assessed through comparison with baseline survey data collected from a random sample of primary cooks (N=285) in Mukuru kwa Reuben from December 2019-March 2020. Results: Nearly all participants (>90%; 178) reported reduced (60%) or cessation (31%) of income and insufficient food (88%) as a result of the lockdown. A majority (52%) of participants reported cooking less frequently in response to the lockdown; most commonly (52%) in order to reduce household expenses and half (51%) had changed their diet (20% stopped consuming meat/fish). Half (n=38) of respondents using liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) for cooking had reduced (n=17; 23%) or stopped using LPG (n=21; 28%) as a clean primary fuel. Households switching primary fuels (n=29) commonly substituted LPG for wood (n=8; 28%) or kerosene (n=7; 24%); or kerosene for wood (n=9; 31%). Three-quarters of residents continuing to use LPG were paying a higher price since the lockdown; unavailability of LPG was not indicated as a major barrier. Conclusions: The COVID-19 lockdown has had a substantial impact on the livelihoods, fuel use and diets of families in peri-urban Kenya, including a likely increase in HAP exposures among families that stopped/reduced LPG fuel use for cooking. Increased exposure to HAP may have been compounded by being quarantined inside the home.

Information & Authors


Published In

ISEE Conference Abstracts
Volume 2020Issue 126 October 2020


Published online: 26 October 2020



M. Shupler
University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UNITED KINGDOM
J. Mwitari
Amref International University, Nairobi, KENYA
A. Gohole
Amref International University, Nairobi, KENYA
R. Anderson de Cuevas
University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UNITED KINGDOM
E. Puzzolo
University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UNITED KINGDOM
I. Cukic
University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UNITED KINGDOM
E. Nix
University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UNITED KINGDOM
D. Pope
University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UNITED KINGDOM

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