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Improved cookstoves set to boost health and livelihoods for vulnerable Kenyan households and businesses


The long-standing reliance on traditional cookstoves and open fires comes with severe drawbacks such as pollution, health hazards, and fuel inefficiency. In order to address such dependence, the Enhancing Access to Improved Cookstoves for Vulnerable Households and Productive Uses in Kenya project is set to promote access to modern cooking solutions for vulnerable households in the coastal counties of Kilifi, Kwale and Taita Taveta. The project will also foster the development of cookstove markets for entrepreneurial activities.

Coordinated by the German development agency Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ) and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO), Energising Development (EnDev) is a strategic partnership promoting access to modern energy services in 21 countries worldwide. With Energy 4 Impact on board as implementing partner, this project forms part of the EnDev Kenya portfolio to boost access to efficient low-cost cooking technologies.

The project will help to address problems caused by traditional cookstoves and their inefficient use of biomass as fuel. Burning large quantities of firewood not only increases pressure on biomass resources, but it also causes domestic air pollution and thus smoke-related health problems. Improved cookstoves are safer, more efficient and produce less emissions. The cooking technology under consideration for this project are low-cost improved cookstoves produced locally, thereby stimulating local manufacturing. Stoves promoted in this project have a fuel saving potential of at least 40% for firewood stoves and 30% for charcoal stoves in comparison to respective baseline stoves.

The project will reach 6,500 vulnerable households in some of the least developed counties in Kenya. For such households, vulnerability is defined by one or more of the following factors: poverty, lack of grid access or susceptibility to economic shocks, amongst others. A sub-set of 1000 households, already participating in the national cash plus scheme of the National Safety Net Programme (NSNP), will be targeted with end-user financing support. This special focus on marginalised households helps promote social inclusion and equity in line with EnDev’s “leave no-one behind” strategy. Improved cookstoves offer considerable advantages for vulnerable households, such as reduced time and labour gathering firewood, as well as a larger pot capacity which allows users to prepare meals for more people. The project aims to explore best ways of supporting cookstove affordability without creating market distortion whilst also generating maximum impact for the financial resources deployed on the project. EnDev envisage the pilot will generate insights and lessons about this approach that can be fed back into the government safety net programme.

Another strand of the project seeks to support 1,200 enterprises to acquire efficient cookstoves capable of meeting higher cooking volumes. For businesses such as restaurants, street food vendors and bakeries, this increase in productive capacity is hugely beneficial. Technical assistance will be given to enterprises in order to ensure stoves are properly operated and fuel savings are sustained. The project will also support local artisans producing improved cookstoves with mentoring, market development activities and financial advice to overcome barriers to capital inflow.

Whilst the benefits to households and enterprises are clear, the overarching aim of Enhancing Access to Improved Cookstoves for Vulnerable Households and Productive Uses in Kenya project is to demonstrate that increasing access to modern cooking technologies is a cost-effective way to reduce fuel poverty and boost livelihood opportunities.