The aim of this study is to better understand the barriers to the uptake of ethanol stove technologies by eliciting users’ perception, adoption, and use patterns of ethanol stoves.

A traditional three-stone fire in Kenya. What are the barriers to switching to using ethanol instead? Image credit: Peter Kapuscinski / World Bank, via Flickr

The study was undertaken in Maputo, a city that was the focus of the first large-scale commercial ethanol stove project in Africa. A mixed-methods approach was adopted using both quantitative (household interviews) and qualitative methods (5 focus group discussions, expert interviews).

Ethanol stoves are currently used by about 17% of the surveyed households, while approximately 12% had discontinued its use and 71% never used it. While a large proportion of ethanol users compared the stove favourably against charcoal in terms of cooking time, convenience, cleanliness, and easiness to use, ethanol use seems to have diminished compared to charcoal, and seems to have replaced other clean cooking technologies such as electricity or LPG rather than charcoal. High ethanol fuel prices combined with low fuel quality and accessibility, as well as stove malfunctions due to poor design influenced many ethanol stove adopters to quit use.

For the effective uptake of ethanol, it will be necessary to address the factors that tend to discourage its use, particularly its high initial and operational cost, poor fuel quality, unreliable fuel supply, and poor stove design.

Although clean cooking fuels might not be attractive to users due to affordability and failure to meet user preferences, awareness raising campaigns that target potential users should emphasise the associated health and safety benefits of clean cooking fuels.