Understanding the barriers to the introduction and uptake of clean/improved cookstoves in Southern Africa

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: Faculty of Engineering

Abstract

This project seeks to understand the barriers that have prevented the large-scale uptake of improved cook stoves in Southern Africa. By learning from successful projects in East Africa, a roadmap to overcome these obstacles will be produced.

It is estimated that 2.7 billion people worldwide, who mostly live on incomes of less than US$2/day, depend on solid biomass fuels (fuelwood, charcoal, animal dung, grass, shrubs, agricultural residue) to meet their basic energy needs for cooking and heating. Many of these people cook on open fires, often inside their homes. As well as being very inefficient in the use of scarce firewood, women and children are exposed to harmful levels of wood smoke, which is a major cause of respiratory disease and premature death. Cook stoves are estimated to contribute around a third of global carbon monoxide emissions while the black carbon particles and other pollutants in biomass smoke are also thought to play a role in global warming.

Improved cook stoves, designed to burn biomass fuels more cleanly and efficiently than traditional stoves, have been promoted by charities and governments in many developing countries since the 1970s. A variety of approaches have been tried, including "build-your-own stove" projects, community-focused participatory schemes, manufacturing stoves in remote villages and market-based commercial activities. In some countries, these new stoves have been well-received. For example, in Kenya 80% of urban families use a metal "jiko" charcoal stove for cooking, which uses 50% less fuel and also decreases cooking time. The cost of the stove can be recovered in fuel savings in just a few months. It is estimated that the widespread uptake of the jiko stove in Kenya saves 206,000 tonnes of wood (570,000 hectares of trees) per year.

In other countries, the progress has been less spectacular. Schemes have failed for a whole range of reasons which are only partially understood. Reasons for failure include: cost of the new stoves, cultural resistance to change, negative experience with previous "development" projects, lack of fuel, failure to understand users' needs and so on. Some stove initiatives have relied solely on the attraction of new technologies rather than taking a more holistic approach which learns from past mistakes and also from successful intervention projects.

The proposed research analyses improved cook stoves and their uptake, with a particular focus on South-South learning and knowledge transfer. Countries to be studied include Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda in East Africa, and Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique and South Africa in Southern Africa.

A cross-disciplinary approach is required to fully understand the barriers and to create an environment that is required for improved cook stove uptake in Southern Africa. To ensure that the problem is tackled from a variety of viewpoints, project partners include engineers, social scientists, nongovernmental organisations, stove manufacturers and distributors. The full list of project partners is:

* The University of Nottingham
* Practical Action
* The Household Energy Network
* AFREPREN: an Africa-wide network of researchers, policy makers & civil society representatives
* The Energy, Poverty & Development Group at the Energy Research Centre, Cape Town, South Africa
* The Center of Energy & Environment, University of Zambia
* Lilongwe University of Agriculture & Natural Resources, Malawi
* The Centre for Petroleum, Energy Economics & Law, University of Ibadan, Nigeria
* Ashden: a charity championing the use of sustainable energy at a local level

The intended outcome of the project will be a set of resources useful to the project partners and other organisations involved in the distribution of improved cook stoves, with the ultimate aim to reduce fuel poverty and to improve the health and environment for the 2.7 billion people who currently depend on biomass stoves.

Planned Impact

The 2.7 billion people who depend on solid biomass fuels to meet their basic energy needs for cooking and heating will be the major beneficiaries of this research. For these populations, a move towards cleaner energy technologies is essential, as the practices in which they burn biomass in traditional stoves and open fires have been identified by health, energy and environment experts as socially and environmentally unsustainable.

The specific focus of the research is to understand the barriers to the introduction and uptake of clean/improved cookstoves in Southern Africa, but it is anticipated that these improved understandings, coupled with the development of a participatory 'best practice toolkit' for improved cookstove development and dissemination, will have wider applicability and will assist in the development of sustainable energy solutions for the energy-poor worldwide.

The outcomes of this research will be of great relevance to policy makers, non-government organisations, regulators and environmental organisations and will contribute to existing national government and non-governmental strategies for improved cookstove development and dissemination. The research personnel trained through the project will gain high quality skills and broad expertise and experience which will add value enabling scientific and technology development to meet the needs of society and specifically to increase clean energy access, resilience and wealth creation in developing countries (particularly for the urban and rural poor), through high quality research that improves the understanding and evidence base of the opportunities and challenges associated with clean energy for development.
 
Title The Great African Bake Off 
Description This was a video clip made by the media team at the University of Nottingham to cover 'The Great African Bake Off event' that was held in Nottingham in September 2015. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2015 
Impact This video (and the event itself) has been used by local Nottinghamshire organisations to raise the profile of the Nottingham refugee forum and its collaboration with the University of Nottingham. It has been publicised widely by the Low Carbon Energy for Development Network (LCEDN) where there are accompanying blog posts and has been sent out in their regular email updates. In addition this has been presented at numerous national and international conferences to a wide of stakeholders including academics, practioners and policy makers. 
URL https://mediaspace.nottingham.ac.uk/media/The+Great+African+Bake+Off/1_5zpakkfg
 
Title Zambia Cook Off Video 
Description Zambia Cook Off Video 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2016 
Impact Video has been widely circulated via press releases to the wide nextwork of LCEDN network, internally at DfiD and showcased to international NGOs and donors such as DfiD and shown at various conferences. 
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5S2ujl-57U
 
Description the barriers to the uptake of ICS include (but are not limited
to); financial, market, political, awareness, and socio-cultural
factors. These may well be the same in 20 years. There
are lots of systematic reviews and briefing papers that discuss
these barriers but the cookstove sector is struggling to overcome them. Another observation the Barriers data is telling us is the importance of context, not just regionally or nationally but also geographically between urban, rural and peri-urban areas.
Exploitation Route Enable policy decisions, help cookstove manufacturers and distributors, assist NGOs and others with formulating stove programmes....
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Energy,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Retail,Other

URL https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/research/groups/barriers/index.aspx
 
Description The project is drawing to a close and has resulted in additional funds and awards for follow-on and spin out research. We have collected 210 Household interviews, 35 Policy interviews, 35 Value Chain interviews and 20 Finance interviews across seven countries and have analysed this data using qualitative analysis software NVivo and SPSS. One of the interesting observations that is being reinforced by our data is that we know what the barriers to the uptake of ICS are. These barriers include (but are not limited to); financial, market, political, awareness, and socio-cultural and they are widely documented in the literature (including a feature length article back in Boiling Point Issue 64, available @HEDON) and they may well be the same in 20 years. There are lots of systematic reviews and briefing papers that discuss these barriers but the cookstove sector is struggling to overcome them. Another observation the Barriers data is telling us is the importance of context, not just regionally or nationally but also geographically between urban, rural and peri-urban areas. The barriers will differ in these locations, but more importantly the enablers will also differ in these areas. More interestingly, the Barriers project has highlighted a lack of consensual terminology when it comes to defining what an ICS actually is and definitions differ from person, organisation and by country. We now understand the barriers to the uptake of ICS better and we are closer to understanding how we can overcome these barriers.
First Year Of Impact 2016
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Education,Energy,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice,Retail,Other
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Economic

 
Description GACC
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guidance committee
 
Description Discipline Bridging Award
Amount £7,500 (GBP)
Organisation University of Nottingham 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 06/2015 
End 05/2016
 
Description Newton Fellowship
Amount £5,435 (GBP)
Organisation Royal Academy of Engineering 
Sector Learned Society
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 09/2015 
End 12/2015
 
Description Newton Fellowship
Amount £6,095 (GBP)
Organisation The British Academy 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 02/2016 
End 04/2016
 
Description Nexus
Amount £55,753 (GBP)
Funding ID ES/P002617/1 
Organisation Economic and Social Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 10/2016 
End 09/2017
 
Description PhD scholarship
Amount £50,000 (GBP)
Organisation Government of Nigeria 
Sector Public
Country Nigeria, Federal Republic of
Start 10/2014 
End 10/2017
 
Description epsrc impact accelerator award
Amount £9,066 (GBP)
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 04/2016 
End 09/2016
 
Description GACC 
Organisation ALS Therapy Alliance
Country United States of America 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Monthly Skype meetings to discuss related projects and to share information with the wider stove community.
Collaborator Contribution Monthly Skype meetings to discuss related projects and to share information with the wider stove community.
Impact We have been invited to review GACC policy documents before they are released.
Start Year 2014
 
Description BBC Radio Nottingham - The Barriers to the Introduction and Uptake of Improved Cookstoves in East and Southern Africa 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Dr Mike Clifford and Dr Charlotte Ray were interviewed by Verity Cowley at BBC Radio Nottingham to discuss the Barriers Project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02b7qyv
 
Description The Great African Bake Off - Nottingham 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact On Monday 14th September 2015, the University of Nottingham hosted the Great African Bake-Off where academics, policy makers and practitioners were invited to observe volunteers from the Women's Cultural Exchange cook delicious food from a range of Sub-Saharan African countries (including Nigeria, Eritrea, Sudan, and Malawi) on a variety of Improved Cookstoves. The event was designed to complement the LCEDN/ USES Barriers project http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/research/groups/barriers/index.aspx , which seeks to understand the barriers to the introduction and uptake of Improved Cookstoves (ICS). ICS are designed to burn biomass fuels more efficiently and have been promoted by a range of governments, charities and international organisations since the 1940s. Despite these interventions however, the uptake and sustained use of these stoves has been slow. Reasons for failure include cost, cultural resistance to change, access and availability of fuel and the failure to understand users' needs. The Nottingham team (consisting of Dr Charlotte Ray, Dr Mike Clifford and Dr Sarah Jewitt) wanted to further explore this idea that some ICS fail to meet end-user requirements and the bake-off was an opportunity to receive end-user feedback on existing ICS technologies in the market place, better understand what criteria end-users have when it comes to choosing a new cooking technology and observe how users interact with the stoves and how that could impact on adoption and sustained use. In addition, the event was an opportunity to encourage guests to interact with both the technology and end-users in order to explore user preferences, performance, safety and wider cultural (especially gender) considerations surrounding energy/fuel choice. Victoria Mponda, one of the cooking volunteers and coordinator of the Women's Cultural Exchange said of the event: "The opportunity given to us by the University of Nottingham to showcase our cooking skills was more than we could have imagined. We are always looking for opportunities to show people just how amazing our women are, to remove the stigma that is associated with our background. These are the moments that I love because it is through them that I notice the leaps and growth within the women. Being given a chance to interact with the wider community removes all the barriers they face or imagine, these moments gives us a larger hope for our future from the limbo that we face. It was home, safe and made everyone in the group very happy to be part of it". DfID also said of the event: "The event was a positive and interactive platform to demonstrate the cookstove technology being used [as part of] the Barriers project. There was an atmosphere of collective learning and I engaged in interesting conversations with other participants and cookstove users. These conversations offered necessary insight into the usability of the technology and added a valuable, real dimension to the research being carried out".

This event has been since discused at other events such as the 2015 Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves 'Clean Cooking Forum' that was held in Accra, Ghana in November 2015 and was the basis to securing additional EPSRC IAA funded to replicate these events in both Malawi and Zambia in 2016.

*The Women's Cultural Exchange is a local voluntary community group in Nottingham that supports the development and empowerment of women from a refugee and asylum background. The group supports and enables women to address multiple stress factors and remove the significant isolation they experience in the uncertainty of the asylum process and also adjusting to life in the UK. The group has members from over 30 countries from around the world, and is based in St Ann's at the Sycamore community centre where the Nottingham Refugee Forum offer them a premises for their weekly meetings and a place to hold most of their activities. For more information contact: womenscultureexchange@gmail.com; Facebooks Page: WCE NOTTS; Twitter: womenscultureexchange
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://mediaspace.nottingham.ac.uk/media/The+Great+African+Bake+Off/1_5zpakkfg
 
Description The Great African Cook Off - Malawi 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The Great African Cook-Off was two events held in Malawi and Zambia to showcase a range of improved cookstoves (ICS) and to concept test existing technologies for user acceptance. The events brought together members of the public, stove producers, policy makers and charitable organisations that have interests in this area. The outcome informed key stakeholders on the state of the stove sector in both countries and fed into new and existing debates on technology design and dissemination strategies to facilitate stove uptake.

In the case of Malawi, the event was held as part of the Cleaner Cooking Camp Conference in March 2016. Supported by the National Cookstoves Steering Committee, led by the Energising Development Programme (EnDev), the annual event brings together stove enthusiasts (both national and international) to discuss the challenges around clean cooking in Malawi. The organising committee supported the cook-off by providing us with designated space where attendees were able to interact with participating cooks and ICS end-users. The event was attended by a range of stakeholders including government, donor organisations and INGOs as well as the Malawian Minister for Energy.

We also had additional support from the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Malawi (LUANAR) who is in-country partner on the Barriers project and supports dissemination events that target and benefit a range of stakeholders in a national context. More specifically, LUANAR are interested in encouraging policy and private sector stakeholders to interact first-hand with ICS end users and better understand end-user priorities and preferences in order to facilitate stove adoption rates. This type of event demonstrated what products are currently available in the market, the benefits and challenges of using ICS and what other types of technology could be introduced in the future.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description The Great African Cook Off - Zambia 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The Great African Cook-Off was two events held in Malawi and Zambia to showcase a range of improved cookstoves (ICS) and to concept test existing technologies for user acceptance. The events brought together members of the public, stove producers, policy makers and charitable organisations that have interests in this area. The outcome informed key stakeholders on the state of the stove sector in both countries and fed into new and existing debates on technology design and dissemination strategies to facilitate stove uptake.

The Great African Cook Off Zambia was the first event of its kind in Livingstone. Community stakeholders and a diverse variety of people gathered to share knowledge and learn about improved cooking technologies including rocket stoves, solar cookers, gasifiers, improved charcoal burners and more. Co-hosted by Greenpop (a social enterprise who is dedicated to (re) connecting people with the planet and each other.) and the University of Nottingham, the intention behind the event was to frame development as a celebration and explore the barriers to cookstove uptake in rural and urban Zambia while exposing people to the various technologies that are available in this space.

The event offered unique opportunities for sustainability and eco-education. Zambians were offered an opportunity to engage with local businesses and experts in the improved cookstove industry while witnessing the stoves in action at the hands of local chefs. Approximately 200 people from a variety of organisations in and around Livingstone attended the event, along with around 40 Greenpop team members, production staff and crew. Together they explored the context, issues and opportunities around improved cooking technologies through information stands and a cook-off style event where six cooking teams were invited to test a variety of different stove types, from imported gasifier stoves to locally-produced, handmade clay rocket stoves.

In addition, the event had support from Lion Alert, Zambia which currently runs a low-carbon cookstove project in the Dwamba Forest Area in Livingstone, Zambia. They offered to supply locally produced cookstoves to showcase and use during the event and assisted in providing access to volunteers and communities where ICS are being used for follow-up discussions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5S2ujl-57U&t=34s
 
Description hospital visit 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Health professionals
Results and Impact The stove demonstration attracted interest from the audience of healthcare professionals and also from the relatives of patients at the mothers' shelter at Livingstone General Hospital in Zambia.

Several people were interested in building their own stoves and also working to improve the conditions at the shelter.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014