Scientific Publication

Gender and Improvement of Cooking Systems with Biochar-producing Gasifier Stoves


Firewood is a limited resource in high demand with about 90% of the households in rural Kenya using it for cooking and heating space (MoE 2002). Most people in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) have limited access to less-polluting fuels (Rao and Pachauri 2017), hence they continue to rely on biomass, which is unsustainably harvested, undermining the environmental health of landscapes, especially in arid regions. Women spend much time on firewood collection which deprives them of opportunities to engage in other developmental activities. Women and children at a global level spend three to seven hours per day near the cookstove (WHO 2005) and hence inhale much smoke, an amount equivalent to 40 cigarettes per day (WHO 2006) which damages their respiratory systems. This is exacerbated by the use of inefficient cooking appliances which is a serious issue as globally 2.6 billion people, most of whom reside in rural areas of either SSA or developing areas of Asia, lack clean cooking facilities (IEA 2013). Peoples’ eating and cooking habits are changed by lack of access to sufficient and appropriate cooking fuel. This is mostly evident by reduced numbers of meals per day, switching to less energyintensive foods, undercooking of food and exchanging part of the food supply for fuel (FAO 2013). This in turn affects the quality, quantity and nutritional value of the food consumed (Sola et al. 2016). Despite the intervention in the 1950s to promote improved stoves which burn biomass more efficiently, use less fuel and have lower smoke emissions than traditional cookstoves, their uptake has remained low (Karekezi et al. 2004). This is mainly due to their relatively high prices and lack of consideration of sociocultural, technical aspects of cooking systems (Hollada et al. 2017). Lotter et al. (2015) envisioned a continuing challenge with the adoption of improved cooking technologies especially if they do not reduce the cost of cooking while improving the customary cooking characteristics. It has also been assumed that poor, uneducated women refuse the improved stoves out of ignorance