Despite the numerous benefits associated with cleaner alternatives, the transition to improved fuels and stoves has not progressed hugely in Sub-Saharan Africa. Why is it that so often, well designed, efficient and clean stoves fail to penetrate the market in developing countries? In order to design effective policies and programmes to scale up the use of cleaner cooking alternatives, the barriers to improved cooking technologies must be understood at the household level.

To date, research on the determinants of stove choice at the household level has focused mainly on socio-economic factors, such as income, age, gender and education, while the role of product-specific factors such as safety, indoor smoke, usage cost and stove price have been largely disregarded.

SEI conducted its research in cooperation with Gaia Association, a local Ethiopian NGO involved in the promotion of ethanol and ethanol fuelled cooking stoves. The research team applied an alternative methodology, Discrete Choice Analysis (DCA), which is commonly used in transportation studies, in order to assess the trade-off between factors affecting household cooking choice.

The authors find that product-specific factors are as important as socio-economic factors to create a market for clean cooking stoves and that future research should strike a balance between both types of factors. In a short-term perspective, product-specific factors are more important, since socio-economic factors tend to change slowly, in line with longer-term patterns of economic growth and human development.

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