A woman cooking dinner for her family in Kisumu West, Kenya

Photo: Peter Kapuscinski, World Bank / Flickr

The health impacts due to household pollutants from inefficient biomass stoves is a central issue in peri-urban Kenya, which is further connected to issues of deforestation and climate change. However, the take-up of cleaner and more efficient stoves is slow.

Recent research has shown that a combination of service design methods, behavioral insights and social-ecological systems thinking can help stove producers and programme implementers to better understand users’ needs and thus develop stoves and interventions that will achieve greater success.

This policy brief describes a small-scale study on cookstove use and experiences in two peri-urban areas outside Nairobi. The project aimed to identify strengths and weaknesses in the implementation of an intervention, an advanced biomass pellet cookstove, from the perspectives of different user archetypes.

This brief makes the following recommendations:

  • There is a need for cookstove developers and programme implementers to better understand user needs and behaviours of key user archetypes and tailor interventions appropriately.
  • In terms of resource allocation, cookstove programme implementers could consider investing more in after-sales support for users who are motivated by saving money, rather than those motivated by convenience, since the convenience seekers were shown to the most self-sufficient when it came to overcoming challenges with the new cooking system. To appeal to the convenience seekers, efforts should rather be focused on facilitating the fuel purchase and supply chain.
  • If advanced gasifier cookstoves are to be scaled up in Kenya, the biomass pellet fuel supply infrastructure needs to be stabilized to reassure users. This could be achieved by introducing subsidies for biomass pellet fuels, either directly to consumers or upstream, to support research and development within the burgeoning fuel supply side.
  • More coordinated efforts are needed to support households and communities as they transition to a new cooking system; such help needs to be available locally, including technical support and repairs and throughout the user journey. Cookstove users themselves could become involved in providing this local support.