Myra Mukulu – Clean Cookstoves Association of Kenya.
- What does the Clean Cookstoves Association of Kenya do?
CCAK is a professional association formed in 2012 and officially registered in 2013. It has 29 members comprising representatives from government, academia, private sector, donor agencies, NGOs and individuals active in the clean cooking sector. CCAK’s mission is to facilitate the scaling up of the clean cookstoves and clean fuels markets in Kenya. We basically envision a reality where no household or institution in Kenya is cooking with harmful stoves or fuels. Our target is to have all institutions and 5 million households using clean fuels and stoves for cooking in Kenya by 2020. Whilst we do not sell or distribute the stoves or fuels ourselves, our members and other sector stakeholders do and we serve as a co-ordination organ to promote an environment for a thriving cook stove sector by working closely with government, development agencies , private sector and other partners.
- What are some of the available improved cooking stove products and where can they be purchased?
Perhaps we could start by defining an improved cook stove. This is any cooking device that saves fuel, improves cooking performance (e.g time) and reduces dangerous smoke and emissions that are emitted by cooking in open firewood with firewood or in basic metallic stoves with charcoal. More than 60% of Kenyans use firewood and charcoal for cooking both in households and institutions with open fires or inefficient stoves. Exclusive use of firewood and charcoal is however more dominant in rural areas. Urban areas use a wider variety of stoves using fuels such as LPG and ethanol. The Kenyan market is vibrant and commercialised with a wide variety of players. Many stove models are available in the market ranging from, ‘jua kali’ or artisanal kind of stoves which are handmade or constructed inside households and institutions to factory made stoves. Artisanal stoves usually use firewood and charcoal as fuels. Some common examples of artisanal stoves are the “Kenya Ceramic Jiko”, “Kuni Mbili”, “Rocket” and “Jiko Kisasa” stoves. For the metallic kind of stoves one can walk into any Jua Kali production centre such as Kamukunji in Nairobi and purchase one. For the Kisasa/Maendeleo stoves these are usually installed in households and clients usually get information on how to purchase them through referrals by happy clients. Other producers of these stoves market their stoves through exhibitions and market demonstrations. There is a whole value chain of producers, installers working with marketers to spread word about the products. Some of the stoves have also made inroads into supermarkets. Financial institutions such as SACCOs and some banks are also offering loans to purchase some of the stoves and the clients find about the stoves this way. Other than the artisanal kinds of stoves, there are many factory made stoves using a wider variety of fuels such as briquettes, pellets, ethanol and charcoal. Some examples of these are the “Jikokoa”, “Zoom Dura” “Jiko Digital”, “Protos”, “Safi e-stove”, and “Philips” among others. The enterprises selling these stoves use various distribution models to make the stoves available to the users. These models include partnership with various financial institutions offering loans for their clients to purchase the stoves, establishing regional dealerships, using regional sales and marketing teams and using supermarkets among others. Some of these firms even using radio and television adverts to tell consumers where their products can be found as well as distributing flyers or stickers with information. They also employ exhibitions and market demonstrations to show potential buyers how they work.
- How much are women involved in the manufacture and sale of cookstoves locally (and regionally if aware)?
Women are an integral part of cookstoves business because in the East African region because cooking is still considered to be women’s role. As such, they are keen to make the cooking experience more user friendly and quickly spread the word if they find impressive products. Being beneficiaries of the products, they make good marketers when selling the stoves and naturally offering simple demonstrations and user training as opposed to marketers who do not use the products. This is important because some of the areas requiring these stoves are very remote in rural areas and using conventional retail chains and distribution channels is not practical. Women can facilitate cost effective sales and marketing as last mile entrepreneurs. In manufacturing, women would look at practical solutions for them – whatever is effective yet user friendly and looks good too! Both women and men have recognized that stove business is a way to improve their livelihoods and are going into it full time. Many stove companies and projects specifically target women to sell their stoves or involve women in manufacture of the stoves for the above reasons. In a recent study commissioned by the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves on stove entrepreneurship in Kenya, it was found that women outsold men stove sellers by nearly 3 to 1, entrepreneurs that were found to be high sellers (selling more than 8 cookstoves), were nearly twice as likely to be female or working in the urban setting and If women sold to other women, those consumers were more likely to report consistent and correct cookstove use and were more likely to report the benefits of cookstoves as compared to male cookstove sellers.
- Why is it hard to get rural women to switch to improved cookstoves?
A variety of reasons make it difficult for rural women to switch to improved cookstoves. These include but are not limited to:
- Lack of awareness. Some women simply do not know that they have better options to make their cooking experience safer, cost effective, healthy and positive to the environment
- Inadequate research to understand the user needs – some entrepreneurs design and sell stoves without taking time to ask pertinent questions. Important questions include what kinds of foods do the potential market cook? How many times in a day do they cook? What fuels do they use? How do they source the fuels – does it cost them anything? Do they prefer to cook indoors or outdoors? Apart from cooking what do they use their stoves for? And so on. This interrogation process takes time and cost money so some stove entrepreneurs take short cuts resulting in hard sells and rural women being branded “resistant to change”. A bottom up approach is advised.
- Poor stove user training. Sometimes the user is not adequately trained on how to use the stove correctly and consistently. In frustration, they often abandon the stoves and revert to three stone fires. Word quickly spreads to other potential stove users that “improved stoves do not make any difference anyway”
- Wrong stove type. In spite of adequate training, some of the stoves are simply not matched with the user’s needs. They may be too small to use or too slow to cook a household’s staple food. This also relates to understanding the user needs. If a lady gets a stove that is too restrictive to use no matter how efficient and smoke free it is, she will revert to her three stone fire for cooking in no time or use it very rarely. Again word will spread that switching to improved stoves is not worth it.
- Prohibitive costs – whilst some women may aspire to have the stoves, they simply cannot afford them with a single payment plan. Without innovative financing mechanisms, such women will not switch to improved stoves.
- Sale of sub standard products – to be honest some of the products in the market do not deliver what they promise. They may not save as much fuel as they promise when the marketing team is on the ground preaching the improved stove gospel. This may be related to poor stove design and inexperienced installers/counterfeit stoves.
- As an association, how do you ensure the quality of the products manufactured by your members?
Quality of products in the market is at the heart of CCAK’s work. We work closely with the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, the Kenya Bureau of Standards, the Kenya Industrial Research Institute research and testing centre and other stakeholders to ensure we have quality products in the market. We do not test products or endorse specific quality products as an association but encourage our members to take their stoves for testing to validate their performance. Many stove entrepreneurs markets their stoves on the basis of specific expected performance e.g. saving 50% of the firewood. Plans are in place to invite members for a voluntary accreditation system where we will publish their tested results based on an agreed standard and testing criteria then we can rate the products and advice consumers on the performance and safety of the stoves and fuels.
- Are women’s energy needs priorities any different with that of men?
In what way are they different? The energy needs of women differ with those of men in so far as their roles in society differ. For instance, women are typically responsible for cooking and food business and require energy for food preparation, processing and preservation. Women are also responsible typically responsible for water collection, and managing the family farms. They therefore require energy to reduce drudgery in water fetching and agricultural activities.