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Early Adoption of an Improved Household Energy System in Urban Rwanda

Jagger, Pamela, Das, Ipsita, Handa, Sudhanshu, Nylander-French, Leena A., Yeatts, Karin B.
EcoHealth 2019 v.16 no.1 pp. 7-20
assets, biomass, charcoal, cooking, cooking stoves, dyspnea, emissions, energy, females, fuels, gasification, heating systems, households, humans, hygiene, leasing, marketing, pellets, private sector, randomized clinical trials, surveys, systolic blood pressure, urban areas, Rwanda
Cooking with solid fuels and inefficient cookstoves has adverse consequences for health, environment, and human well-being. Despite the promise of improved cookstoves to reduce these impacts, adoption rates are relatively low. Using a 2-wave sample of 144 households from the baseline and first midline of an ongoing 4-year randomized controlled trial in Rwanda, we analyze the drivers and associations of early adoption of a household energy intervention marketed by a private sector firm. Households sign an annual contract to purchase sustainably produced biomass pellets and lease a fan micro-gasification cookstove with verified emissions reductions in laboratory settings. Using difference-in-differences and fixed effects estimation techniques, we examine the association between take-up of the improved cooking system and household fuel expenditures, health outcomes, and time use for primary cooks. Thirty percent of households adopted the pellet and improved cookstove system. Adopting households had more assets, lower per capita total expenditures and cooking fuel expenditures, and higher per capita hygiene expenditures. Households with married household heads and female cooks were significantly more likely to adopt. Adjusting for confounders, we find significant reduction in primary cooks’ systolic blood pressure, self-reported prevalence of shortness of breath, an indicator of respiratory illness, time spent cooking, and household expenditures on charcoal. Our findings have implications for marketing of future clean fuel and improved cookstove programs in urban settings or where stoves and fuel are purchased. Analysis of follow-up surveys will allow for estimation of long-term impacts of adoption of interventions involving pellets and fan micro-gasification cookstoves.