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Strategies for Improved Cookstove Adoption in Urban Uganda

Ugandan woman performing cooking demonstration, Impact Carbon

Research Overview

PATH's research aimed to increase the uptake and correct use of the Top-Lit UpDraft (TLUD) stove* in low-income, peri-urban regions surrounding Kampala, Uganda. The researchers selected the TLUD stove stove because of its high efficiency and great potential for improving the health effects of cookstoves. However, use of the stove requires significant behavior change compared to traditional cooking methods because of the size and amount of wood needed. PATH is developing and testing strategies to overcome this barrier, in order to increase adoption of the TLUD stove compared to traditional promotional efforts. 

Project Location

Uganda: Wakiso District

Map of Wakiso district, Uganda


Research Objectives

  • Can effective behavior change communication (BCC) approaches overcome the behavior change threshold required to acquire and correctly and consistently use a TLUD stove?
  • Will correct and consistent use of a TLUD stove: 1) decrease fuel consumption; 2) decrease indoor air pollution as measured in concentrations of particulate matter (PM) and carbon monoxide (CO); and 3) increase perceptions of well-being by users?

Research Interventions

PATH will evaluate the following strategies:

  • Stove sales by Village Health Teams (VHTs);
  • Stove sales by direct sales agents;
  • BCC interventions including a User’s Manual, Benefits flyers, and cooking demonstrations; and
  • Household education by VHTs on IAP and benefits of improved stoves.

Some important components of the BCC strategy are:

  • Engaged the local community including women, religious leaders and VHTs to help understand who could serve as the most effective sales agents and what BCC messages (health, time, monetary savings, etc.) were most effective at driving behavior change.
  • Allowed households to test the stove in their home for a period of time before paying for the stove. If the household chose not to keep the stove after the trial period, the stove could be returned to the sales agent. 
  • Used stoves manufactured by local artisans to create a local, reliable supply chain. This also ensured that local manufacturers were available to repair broken stoves and answer questions about usage.
The intervention will be evaluated by comparing data on stove usage, product uptake, indoor air quality, energy efficiency, perceived health, and consumer responses between the different intervention strategies, and to data from the BEIA project, which did not use any BCC interventions. The effects of other stove promotion activities will also be determined. 

Lessons Learned

  • Community cooking demonstrations were the most effective BCC strategy used. These demonstrations allowed customers to see the changes in behavior required to use the stove, ask questions, and observe benefits first-hand, which excited and motivated them to purchase the stove
  • Engaging VHT members as information sources and as sales agents played a role in raising community awareness about the risks of HAP, the benefits of improved cookstoves, and where the TLUD could be purchased
  • Feedback from focus group discussions and interviews with cooks, VHTs, and key informants indicated that BCC print materials were not very effective in motivating people to purchase a stove
  • The price was the greatest barrier to TLUD acquisition. If it were possible to manufacture a more acceptable TLUD design at a significantly lower cost, or a more aspirational product at a higher price, then it would be possible for a TLUD to be commercially viable in the Ugandan market.
  • No one cookstove met all the cooking needs of households in these study populations - all participants used two stoves to prepare a meal
  • Access to and cost of wood were the greatest barriers to consistent use of the TLUD
  • The stove price and its apparent function as a niche product became disincentives for primay cooks to train other members of the household in the steps to use the stove
  • A few highly motivated TLUD users were able to cook virtually all their foods and drinks on the stove. Motivations for extensive use of the stove included being able to take advantage of its speed to cook roadside snacks quickly or to sell charcoal produced by the TLUD.

TRAction created this video describes Impact Carbon's work and the pros and cons of TLUDs:


Research into Action

PATH is working to share lessons learned from this study in order to improve cookstove interventions in Uganda. Examples include:

  • Share findings and facilitate the development of action plans with country partners to increase the availability and proper use of cookstoves
  • Documentation of process and lessons learned in reports and presentations to be shared on the local and global levels through workshops and meetings with stakeholders
  • Provision of data to Ugandan Ministry of Health and Ministry of Environment on the cookstove's impact on indoor air quality and fuel use.
  • Engagement with relevant ministries to provide information that can be integrated into community-based participatory strategies in support of the National Health Sector Strategic Plan

Research Partners

Berkeley Air Monitoring Group (BA)
Centre for Integrated Research and Community Development (CIRCODU), Uganda
Joint Energy and Environment Programme (JEEP), Uganda
Principal Investigator: Emmanuel Mugisha, PhD

Project Status

Project Status: Dissemination

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