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Stoves or sugar? Willingness to adopt improved cookstoves in Malawi

Jagger, Pamela, Jumbe, Charles
Energy Policy 2016 v.92 pp. 409-419
cooking, cooking stoves, crop residues, environmental impact, fuelwood, households, labor, people, purchasing, rapid methods, rural areas, sugars, Malawi
Malawi has set a target of adoption of two million improved cookstoves (ICS) by 2020. Meeting this objective requires knowledge about determinants of adoption, particularly in rural areas where the cost of traditional cooking technologies and fuels are non-monetary, and where people have limited capacity to purchase an ICS. We conducted a discrete choice experiment with 383 households in rural Malawi asking them if they would chose a locally made ICS or a package of sugar and salt of roughly equal value. Six months later, we assessed adoption and stove use patterns. Sixty-six percent of households chose the ICS. We find that having a larger share of crop residues in household fuel supply, awareness of the environmental impacts of woodfuel reliance, time the primary cook devotes to collecting fuelwood, and peer effects at the village-level increase the odds of choosing the ICS. Having a large labor supply for fuelwood collection and experience with a non-traditional cooking technology decreased the odds of choosing the ICS. In a rapid assessment six months after stoves were distributed, we found 80% of households were still using the ICS, but not exclusively. Our findings suggest considerable potential for wide-scale adoption of low cost ICS in Malawi.