The journey to cleaner fuels requires funders to shift their focus

2024-01-17 14:54

There is low access to high quality, Tier 4-5 cookstoves and Tier 3+ briquette/pellet stoves (higher tier cookstoves) across Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Within the focus countries, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Kenya have the highest access rates for clean cooking solutions at 30%, 16% and 13% of the population, respectively. On the other hand, DRC, Tanzania, and Mozambique have the lowest access rates at just under 4%, 5.5% and 7% of the population, respectively.

In the countries with high clean cooking solutions penetration, improved cookstoves, typically using traditional fuels, are the main drivers, due to their relatively lower cost compared to Tier 4-5 technologies. While improved cookstoves reduce traditional fuel usage, they do not provide the health and environmental benefits of higher tier cooking solutions. However, prohibitive cost, limited availability of fuels and cultural preferences drive the low penetration of these higher tier technologies. Higher tier stoves are typically in the range USD 60–1,000, and OCA’s theoretical affordability analysis shows that, on average, only 30-40% of consumers across the target countries can afford higher tier technologies on a cash basis. Some countries, such as Kenya, have higher affordability levels, while others, such as the DRC, where over 70% of the population lives below the poverty level, are much lower.

Existing results-based financing (RBF) facilities have focused on transitioning customers from Tier 0-1 to Tier 2-3 cookstoves, but funders may need to shift their focus to incentivise access to Tier 4-5 clean technologies. These higher tier technologies have the most potential to reduce carbon emissions, improve biodiversity, avoid adverse health effects, reduce drudgery of women and girls and improve livelihoods. However, the clean cooking solutions sector is still quite nascent in SSA, and households prefer to use wood and charcoal as they are cheaper and more readily available. Cultural and behavioural factors also contribute to the decision by households to use charcoal and wood fuels. For example, some communities believe that food cooked using charcoal is tastier than that cooked using other fuels. These factors make it difficult to convince households to shift immediately from Tier 0-1 to Tier 4-5 cookstoves (where affordability allows). By supporting consumers to transition gradually to higher quality cookstoves, funders can create awareness of the benefits of cooking with clean fuels. As consumers experience the benefits of cooking with cleaner fuels, they can begin the journey to higher tier technologies.

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