​​​​​​​The role of National Clean Cooking Alliances in the cooking sector transition

Kid cooking in shed

The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the Netherlands Enterprise Agency RVO initiated a Clean Cooking Sector Support Programme in 2016 to strengthen coordination and innovation in the clean cooking sectors of Bangladesh, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and Ghana.

The RVO initiative aimed to gain a better understanding of what is needed for the transition of the cooking sector. The end of programme report, compiled by SNV and launched on 28 October analyses the results of the programme specifically looking at the role of national alliances in transforming the clean cooking sector.

Transitioning the cooking energy sector is a multifaceted, complex process. Moving all household and institutional cooking away from traditional fuels and energy conversion methods will not happen overnight. Experience from other sectors shows that sector transitions can be accelerated through joint effort, and that ‘coalitions for change’ are required to support a broad (cooking) energy transition in developing countries.

Cooking with traditional ovens or on an open fire is responsible for close to 4 million deaths a year in developing countries, more than the number of deaths from malaria, TB and AIDS combined. Worldwide more than 3 billion people cook with wood, charcoal or biomass waste. This is not only detrimental to their health, but the use of these cooking fuels contributes significantly to climate change.

The RVO Sector Support projects in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya and Uganda have, in a relatively short period, been successful in convening key stakeholders and contributing to better alignment and coordination in the sector. A number of strategic milestones have been achieved, such as policy changes, adoption of standards, sector studies and business incubation activities. However, the cooking sector transition is still at an early stage and requires sustained support and effort.

The transition to clean cooking needs a holistic and multidisciplinary approach, in which stakeholders from across sectors must step beyond their own interests and come together for the greater good. Sector actors from government, private sector, civil society and academia should build a common vision on sector transition pathways and challenges, and collectively take action. Multistakeholder initiatives, such as Clean Cooking Alliances, can play a valuable role in initiating and coordinating broad stakeholder discussions about the transition of the sector, and building a ‘coalition for change’ towards a national clean cooking transition.

The Clean Cooking Alliance plays a strong connecting role at the international level. At the national level, 'national alliances' (multistakeholder organisations) can play a central role in the cooking energy sector. A strong National Clean Cooking alliance can safeguard a conducive environment in which a multistakeholder dialogue can take place, taking into consideration the local context, as well as understanding the power relations to determine the most successful approach.

Also, Governments have an important role to play in stimulating the clean cooking sector in order to achieve the SDGs. Alliances need to work in partnership with the government, to ensure government ownership of interventions that are necessary to stimulate sector transition. Inter-ministerial coordination should be enhanced, alignment of policies related to clean cooking should be prioritised, while adequate budget should be allocated to accelerate sector transition.

The RVO Sector Support programme was implemented by SNV and GIZ__.