Improved Cook Stoves (ICS)
Improved cook stoves - designed to burn biomass fuels more cleanly and efficiently - have been promoted by charities and governments in developing countries since the late 1940s.
A range of approaches have been tried, including ‘build-your-own stove’ projects, community-focused schemes, manufacturing stoves in remote villages and more recently, market-based activities. In some countries, these new stoves have been well-received.
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 and it is estimated that the widespread uptake of the jiko stove saves 206,000 tonnes of wood per year.
Areas for improvement
In other countries, 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 experiences from previous ICS interventions
- Availability of alternative fuel
- failure to understand users’ needs
The Barriers Project
This £685k EPSRC, DfID and DEC funded project aims to understand the barriers preventing the uptake of improved cook stoves in Southern Africa.
By learning from successful projects in East Africa, a plan to overcome these obstacles will be produced.
The proposed multi-disciplinary research will use participatory methods to better understand the uptake of improved cook stoves, with a particular focus on South-South learning and knowledge transfer.
Countries to be studied include:
- South Africa
- A set of practical resources to facilitate the uptake of ICS in Southern Africa.