Clean and Improved Cooking in the Mekong Region

The programme addresses negative impacts of traditional cooking in rural Cambodia



The programme on Clean and Improved Cooking (CIC) in the Mekong Region (2021–2024) is designed to address the negative social, economic, environmental, and health impacts of traditional cooking in rural Cambodia.

The use of biomass for cooking fuel and associated smoke exposure contributes to serious health problems, leading to the death of 14,000 people in Cambodia per year. Many more lives, mainly those of women and children, are affected by smoke-related health conditions that reduce overall quality and length of life. Further, the smoke emissions from open fires add to greenhouse gasses that are responsible for climate change. Finally, cooking is strongly connected to gender inequalities at household level. Collecting wood, cleaning the pots, and tending the fire are all tasks that fall disproportionately on young girls and women.


CIC promotes awareness, demand creation, and capacity building of local institutions to provide behaviour change communication for clean cooking. The Smoke-Free Village (SFV) approach aligns with Cambodia Basic Energy and Health Plans to prevent non-communicable diseases and has builds on the approach for Community-Led Total Sanitation.

The SFV is a gender-based approach that encourages villages to collectively change cooking behaviours to eliminate smoke. The initiative stimulates demand for clean stoves and fuels, and triggers suppliers to sell their products and services in villages. Four key cooking behaviors are encouraged:

  • Avoid smoke exposure by ensuring ventilation and drying wood

  • Purchase clean cookstoves, electric stoves, gas, and clean biomass stoves

  • Regularly use the purchased cookstove

  • Decrease reliance on traditional stoves.

SFV approach builds further on SNV’s experiences in the cooking sector and on successful programmes aiming for Open Defecation Free villages. The demand creation stemming from the SFV encourages producers to increase their supply, both in local shops as well as with national producers of clean biomass stoves. SFV also builds capacities of Commune Councils for Women and Children, as well as schools, health centres, and pagodas to foster new norms and shift systems to function beyond the dependency of the programme.


  • 25,000 households reached

  • 21 primary schools involved

  • 50% of households changed to clean cooking behaviours

  • 10,000 clean cookstoves bought by households

Initial System Change Indications

  • 22 Commune Councils for Women and Children active, and increasingly adopting clean cooking in their planning

  • Small grants taken up along the supply chains of clean stoves and fuels

The CIC programme has a strong learning focus built on village and commune-level tracking data. Its lessons learned will provide a replicable model for community-based engagement around energy, climate change, and health initiatives.

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