New report shows positive results in changing cooking behaviour

BCC session

A new EnDev and SNV report shows that behavioural change communication has played a significant role in encouraging communities in rural Cambodia to move from traditional open fires to healthier, more environmentally friendly, smoke-free alternatives.

In Cambodia, two million households use firewood for cooking. The associated smoke exposure contributes to serious health problems and many diseases, leading to the death of an estimated 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 the overall quality of life. Further, the smoke emissions from open fires add to greenhouse gasses responsible for climate change. Cooking is strongly connected to gender inequalities at the household level. Collecting wood, cleaning the pots, and tending to the fire are all tasks that fall disproportionately on young girls and women.

Since 2020, SNV and EnDev have applied a behavioural change initiative in rural Cambodia to change cooking habits from firewood use to clean fuels like electricity. Together with the 25 Commune Councils for Women and Children in four provinces, 200 “Smoke Free Villages” are part of the project area.

The channels for sharing the behavioural change materials are village meetings, and the initiative relies on group games and cooking demonstrations. These demonstrations use different types of energy sources – electric, LPG, advanced biomass stoves -

to increase awareness of the disadvantages of traditional cooking and help illuminate the relatively lower costs of cooking with clean cooking fuels.

Last week a report was published that evaluates the impact of the Smoke Free Village initiative on cooking habits, stoves procured, and fuel usage. The results show that behavioural change communication is a powerful method to change cooking practices. Only a third of households primarily use clean fuels outside the Smoke Free Villages, but up to two-thirds of households living inside Smoke Free Village areas use clean fuels. The opposite is true concerning firewood -

Two-thirds of households primarily use firewood in villages outside the Smoke Free Village area, but only one-third do so in the Smoke Free Village areas.

Together with national and local governments and other international development partners, SNV is exploring ways to scale up this successful approach that helps promote clean cooking and impacts the nexus of energy, health, and the environment.

The full report can be downloaded by following this link.

For more information

For more information on this report or the Smoke Free Village initiative, please contact Bastiaan Teune, bteune@snv.org, Energy Sector Leader, Cambodia.