A shift to advanced cookstoves can bring significant health and environmental benefits, but only with proper and consistent use. Yet empirical evidence of what drives households to adopt advanced cooking technologies is limited.
The authors use case studies in peri-urban Kiambu County, Kenya, and urban Lusaka, Zambia, to examine what drives households to adopt clean stoves for most or all of their cooking needs, and to stick with those stoves for the long term. They use a service design methodology to build “user journeys” that illustrate the cook’s experience with the technology, from the point of hearing about it, to purchasing it, learning to use it, and making it part of daily routine.
They find that 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. However, those factors may not continue to motivate people as they begin to use the stove. At that point, what matters most is whether the stove works well and as expected. Most users also need to use the stove several times before realizing its full value. It is therefore 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 that can support stove adoption include hands-on trials before purchase, to ensure that users know what to expect; high-quality user manuals; and building a trusting relationship between users and sales agents that continues after the purchase, to provide longer-term support.
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