Understanding the barriers to the introduction and uptake of clean/improved cookstoves in Southern Africa

Improved cook stoves (ICS) have been promoted by charities and governments in developing countries since the late 1940s. A range of approaches have been tried, including ‘build-your-own stove’ projects, community-focused schemes, manufacturing stoves in remote villages and more recently, market-based activities.

In some countries, these new stoves have been well-received. In Kenya, 80% of urban families use a metal ‘jiko’ charcoal stove for cooking, which uses 50% less fuel and also decreases cooking time. The cost of the stove can be recovered in fuel savings in just a few months and it is estimated that the widespread uptake of the jiko stove saves 206,000 tonnes of wood per year.

In other countries, progress has been less spectacular. Schemes have failed for a whole range of reasons which are only partially understood.

So far, the project has collected 210 household questionnaires, 35 policy interviews, 35 value chain interviews and 20 finance interviews. Preliminary results highlight a few key themes:

– Inconsistent use of terminology around stoves and fuels make it harder for end-users to understand varying ICS interventions;
– Varying degrees of commitment and a lack of formal policy on stoves has meant that it has largely been left to the donor community to champion a market-based approach with mixed results;
– End-user priorities are not always taken into account;
– A mis-understanding of the broader role of the stove within in a household/ community accounts for only partial not exclusive use of ICS;
– Parallels from other sectors such as sanitation can draw lessons on how to improve uptake of ICS.



University of Nottingham

Practical Action (UK & East Africa)

Energy Research Centre (ERC – South Africa)

CEEZ (Zambia)

Lilongwe University of Agricultural and Natural Resources (LUANAR – Malawi)

Ashden Awards (UK)

The Household Energy Network


Project website

Barriers Project Homepage

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