Can Improved Cooking Stoves Work? The Nepal Chulo Experience, 2013.
D DWANDE, et al.
What motivates rural households to switch from older cooking methods to newer, more improved, ones? Improved cooking stoves (ICS) technology has demonstrated capacity to reduce health hazards from smoke inhalation, especially for mothers and young children in poor rural households. Additional advantages such as fuel economy are also possible. However, policies encouraging rural households to switch have met with little success. Initially enthusiastic acceptance has seldom led to long-term adoption. Possibly, faulty policy implementation is to blame, but it is likely that policymakers have not come to terms with the fact that adopting the ICS requires changing generations-old behavior.
This paper contributes in two ways, using a primary survey of rural households in Nepal. It first uses tests of independence to investigate sources of resistance to adopting the ICS by associating characteristics of the heads of households with their adoption decision. Association of self-reported health outcomes with adoption is also examined. Second, the paper sheds light on the role of economic benefits such as fuel economy, fuel costs, and government subsidy and their association with ICS adoption. Nepal is an appropriate setting for studying ICS adoption, for its plentiful wood supply has deemed the traditional stove or chulo the status quo cooking technology. Nepal’s government also has a history of experimenting with ICS adoption. Some lessons from the Nepal experience are useful for other countries as they seek to change the behavior of their rural households.