29. Proportion of the population using solid fuels (data not yet available)



Proportion of population using solid fuels is the proportion of the population that relies on biomass (wood, charcoal, crop residues and dung) and coal as the primary source of domestic energy for cooking and heating.


Goal/target addressed

Goal 7. Ensure environmental sustainability.

Target 9. Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes and reverse the loss of environmental resources.



Incomplete and inefficient combustion of solid fuels results in the emission of hundreds of compounds, many of which are health-damaging pollutants or greenhouse gases that contribute to global climate change. There are also important linkages between household solid fuel use, indoor air pollution, deforestation and soil erosion, and greenhouse gas emissions. Exposure to indoor air pollution is a complex phenomenon and depends on interactions of pollution source (fuel and stove type), pollution dispersion (housing and ventilation) and the time-activity budget of household members. The type of fuel and participation in cooking tasks have consistently been the most important predictors of exposure.


Method of computation

The indicator is computed as the ratio of households using one or more unprocessed solid fuels (dung and crop residues, wood, charcoal, and coal) for cooking and heating, to the total population, expressed as a percentage.


Data collection and source

Data can be derived from household surveys, such as Living Standard Measurement Surveys and Demographic and Health Surveys, and from population censuses. Standard questions for inclusion in all nationally representative household surveys have not been developed yet, and no internationally comparable data are available.



“Energy and Gender Equality”, Gender and Development Briefing Notes, 2002, World Bank (www.worldbank.org/gender/resources/briefing).

Stakeholder Forum, www.earthsummit2002.org/es/issues/gender.


Gender issues

More than half the world’s households cook with unprocessed solid fuels, exposing primarily women and children to indoor air pollution, which can result in serious health problems, such as acute respiratory diseases. In addition, women spend more time than men gathering fuel wood.


International data comparisons

The World Health Organization has produced estimates of regional aggregates for this indicator. However, no country data series are available to allow comparison across countries or assessment of trends.


Comments and limitations

Development of standard questions for inclusion in all nationally representative household surveys and censuses is needed to obtain data for calculating this indicator and allowing comparisons across countries.


Because the use of solid fuels affects both the environment and the population as a whole and the health status of those directly exposed, guidelines should clearly set definitions and measurement standards for what is intended by “exposure”.



National statistical offices.

World Health Organization.