Jan 24, 2021

Healthy Kitchens: Healthy Cities


Interventions in health frequently focus on one particular disease, condition or risk factor. Such a narrow approach can miss important influences and may lead to unintended consequences as wider relationships are not considered. In contrast, rather than narrowing in on one health issue, this proposal takes the kitchen as the focus of study and future interventions.

The kitchen, which in South Asia is often the hidden domain of women and children, is the epicentre of activities which can either enhance or undermine health.

Within the context of rapid and uncontrolled urbanisation, the activities in the kitchen and the risks they may lead to are changing, as is the resultant disease pattern.

Ultimately this programme aims to identify and find funding for holistic interventions focused on the kitchen. This programme brings together a truly multidisciplinary team, both in terms of topics: lung health, smoking and indoor air pollution, NCDs and burns, and methodology: epidemiologists, anthropologists and sociologists. The programme includes primary research with urban poor families in Kathmandu, the identification of kitchen-based interventions through evidence review and the participation of poor urban women and space for the interdisciplinary team to develop publications and proposal for future funding.

While the initial focus will be Nepal, the aim is to extend this programme across South Asia and to seek engagement from other WUN universities with interests in this area.


  • To explore practices in, and the symbolic importance of, kitchens in slum areas in Kathmandu, in particular the wider gender, caste and socio-economic influences.
  • To identify trends in lung health, NCD, burn injury, skin and gastrointestinal disease in relation to weather conditions, fuel/power availability and increasing urbanisation.
  • To synthesise existing evidence on kitchen related risk factors, their wider determinants and the associations with NCDs, burn injury, skin, gastrointestinal and lung health disease among the urban poor in South Asia.
  • To identify kitchen-focused interventions to reduce the risks of NCDs, burn injury, skin, gastrointestinal and lung health disease among the urban poor in South Asia.

Current work of the Healthy Kitchens team is focused on exploring the viability of  childcare in urban slums to reduce public health risks due to challenges of child supervision in slum contexts, and to trigger health, education and wider social and economic gains.

Selected outcomes