Systems change in Kenya: Changing the way communities have cooked for generations

Systems change in Kenya: Changing the way communities have cooked for generations

In Kenya, SNV significantly contributed to systems change through increased adoption of clean cookstoves and fuels. To make this happen, the Voice for Change Partnership (V4CP) energy team led the transition from traditional to clean cooking through national and county plans, regulations and budgets.

Voice for Change Partnership (V4CP)

The Voice for Change Partnership (V4CP) is programme that empowers civil society organisations (CSOs) to advocate for the adoption and implementation of policies and practices by governments and businesses to benefit poor and marginalised communities.

Cooking with biomass

Biomass - particularly the use of wood – is the primary cooking fuel for 65% of households in Kenya, with over 75% of rural households still cooking on traditional three-stone fires. This has detrimental effects on the climate (due to deforestation and greenhouse gas [GHG] emissions) and human health. Women’s health is disproportionately impacted, as they are traditionally in charge of cooking for the family. Although improved cookstoves and cleaner fuels can reduce indoor air pollution and its associated health problems, it was not easy to change the way communities have cooked for generations.

The transition to cleaner cooking

In 2016 and at the inception of the V4CP programme, the transition of the cooking sector to cleaner cooking solutions faced multiple structural challenges. Firstly, due to a lack of consumer awareness of the risks of cooking on an open fire and of clean cooking alternatives, there was limited demand for improved and clean cookstoves and fuels. Secondly, limited market development as private sector participation in the clean cooking sector was minimal and largely informal, with the charcoal industry playing a dominant role. Consequently, the supply chain was inadequate to reach rural areas. Improved stoves and fuels were also not affordable for everyone. Finally, at the inception of the V4CP programme, there was also a lack of a clear policy framework supporting clean cooking in Kenya.

Shifting norms

The V4CP approach sought to directly impact institutional embedding and shifting markets by advocating for conducive policies (tax incentives, standards) and by increasing awareness and demand for clean cookstoves. The changes observed in turn contributed to results on leveraging finance and shifting norms.

This case study describes ways in which the V4CP support to CSOs’ advocacy efforts has contributed to systems change in the clean cooking sector in Kenya.