The myriad negative impacts of relying on traditional biomass for cooking have been well documented. Although governments, international donors and private companies have made numerous attempts over the years to address this problem, little progress has been made.

One key reason for the lack of progress is that cookstove technology and programme developers often fail to properly take account of key drivers of behaviour related to cookstove and fuel choice, most notably the needs and preferences of the end-users. Understanding these drivers is challenging because individual behaviour is influenced by a combination of factors linked to culture, values, tradition, psychology, aesthetic preferences and emotions. Understanding the role of drivers of behaviour is difficult, partly because people often have trouble verbalising their thoughts and feelings around them.

Researchers at SEI have, in recent years, been working to develop and test tools and methods to help access this information and better understand the processes that shape individual behaviour and choice. This study is an extension of that work, and used a generative approach in which cultural probes – in this case disposable cameras – were used in combination with open-ended interviews in 26 households to learn about the socio-cultural context in Kibera.

Based on the insights gathered, the authors identify some obstacles to and opportunities for households to shift to clean, safe, household-cooking alternatives. The report also reflects on the usefulness of cultural probes for eliciting highly contextual socio-cultural information in a setting like Kibera.

Download the working paper (PDF, 1.7MB)