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

Client: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (UK)

Period: 2014 –

Project leader: Mike Clifford (University of Nottingham)

Local project team (as part of the international team): Gisela Prasad, Wikus Kruger

It is estimated that 2.7 billion people worldwide rely on biomass fuels (fuelwood, charcoal, animal dung, grass, shrubs, agricultural residue) to meet basic cooking and heating needs. Most of these people are exposed to harmful levels of indoor air pollution, a major cause of respiratory disease and premature death. Traditional biomass cooking is estiamted to contribute about a third of global carbon monoxide emissions, while biomass smoke contributes significantly to global climate change.

Improved cook stoves – designed to burn biomass fuels more cleanly and efficiently – have been promoted by charities and government in developing countries since the late 1940s. A range of approaches have been tried, including artisanal construction and market-based mechanisms. These stoves have had more success in some countries rather than others; in Kenya, for example, 80% of urban families use a metal “jiko” charcoal stove for cooking, which uses 50% less fuel than a traditional stove and also decreases cooking time.

Progress on stove adoption has been slow in Southern Africa. The Barriers project aims to understand the barriers preventing the uptake of improved cook stoves in Southern Africa. Be learning from succesful projects in East Africa, a plan to overcome these barriers will be produced. This includes the development of a range of targeted resources for a range of stakeholders, including policy-makers, value chain actors and supporting services providers.

The multi-disciplinary research uses participatory methods to better understand the uptake of improved cook stoves, with a particular focus on South-South learning and knowledge transfer. Countries that are studied include Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique and South Africa. It is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Department for International Development (DfID) and the Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC).