Three billion people worldwide use solid fuels and inefficient stoves to meet their daily heating and cooking needs. The resulting household air pollution causes over four million deaths annually, and the drudgery of solid fuel collection and preparation restricts opportunities for education and employment. Use of fuelwood, in particular, exacerbates pressures on local forests, and its inefficient burning contributes to global climate change. These challenges are uniquely pressing in Senegal, where over 95 percent of the rural population relies on fuelwood.
The international community has increasingly turned to improved cookstoves (ICS) for solutions. ICS are designed to reduce emissions from biomass burning, yielding health benefits by lowering household air pollution exposure.
Questions remain about which stove types are “clean.” Recent research casts doubt on the idea that biomass cookstoves sufficiently lower emissions to deliver both health and environmental benefits. However, truly clean solutions—such as biogas—remain expensive. In addition, adoption and sustained use of technologies deemed to be effective on technical grounds face challenges in the field, dampening the expected benefits of clean-cooking interventions. In sum, the cost-benefit tradeoffs between various cooking technologies remain poorly understood.
Against this background, our study will address three key knowledge gaps. In the “adoption arm”, we aim to understand how strategies to promote ICS in real-world settings impact adoption and use. Second, in an “impact arm” we aim to identify the impacts of these ICS technologies and promotion strategies on a variety of fuel-related outcomes (consumption, collection, and cost) and health (self-reported illness and objective measurements, focusing especially on children and primary cooks). Finally, a “biogas arm” will evaluate the net benefits of biogas technology to better understand its potential in low-income contexts.