Adopting an advanced stove can require a significant shift in cooking practices, as these stoves function differently, use different fuels, and may impart a different taste and texture to food. The change in cooking practices takes time and requires real effort and persistence.

A first step in supporting a shift to advanced cookstoves is to understand how users experience the stoves – from initial exposure, to learning to use them, to full adoption – and identify critical points in the process when extra support is needed.

In case studies in peri-urban Kiambu County, Kenya, and urban Lusaka, Zambia, we built “user journeys” – a tool from service design – to map households’ experience with advanced stoves, including their motivations and the barriers they encountered.

The main motivating factors for buying a stove were the prospect of saving money and/or fuel, added convenience, and the aesthetic and aspirational appeal of the stove. Once they began to use the stove, however, what mattered most was whether it worked as expected.

It is crucial that users get the support they need to learn how to use the stove, so they do not abandon it in frustration. Key interventions include hands-on trials before purchase, to ensure that users know what to expect; high-quality user manuals; and building a trusting relationship that continues after the purchase, to provide longer-term support.

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