Achieving uptake and sustained use of clean cookstoves and fuels is essential for reducing household air pollution and improving health. In partnership with the USAID TRAction project and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves invited leading investigators working in the clean cooking sector to share and discuss recent findings and ongoing research on the drivers of adoption of technologies in South America, sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia.
Results from four adoption studies supported by the Alliance, USAID TRAction, and the Public Health Institute were presented, along with evidence from eight additional studies supported by WASHplus, Wellcome Trust, and the EPA Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program.
Preliminary findings provide useful insight for enterprises interested in scaling up clean cooking, including:
- While consumers enjoy the convenience and cleanliness of clean stoves and fuels, stove “stacking” (i.e. the continued use of traditional cookstoves) is more often than not a reality – the challenge is to meet all the household’s cooking and/or heating needs while eliminating the use of the most polluting technologies.
- Frequent home visits by customer service representatives encouraged more intensive use of the new stoves.
- Several novel financing and distribution strategies under evaluation may create incentives for increased stove use.
An in-depth workshop for investigators to discuss and synthesize emerging themes from their studies followed the public presentation of emerging results. Given the time constraints of these studies, most focused on initial uptake, but not sustained use. Thus, knowledge about the drivers of long-term use of clean cooking solutions remains limited. The discussion touched on several important themes including affordability, consumer financing, and marketing; products meeting clean and/or efficient criteria while also meeting the unique cooking needs of a population; the strengths and challenges of robust customer service or alternative incentive programs; and the role of gender in household decision making, among many others. All of these factors were found to influence uptake and intensive use of clean cooking solutions.