People-driven Initiative for Cleaner Cooking and Improved Women and Child Health in Slum Communities SDI PROJECT FUNDED BY MFA NOWAY/NORAD (mid-TERM PROGRESS REPORT 2017)

Toxic smoke of household cooking with charcoal or paraffin kills 4.3 million people annually (more than HIV/AIDS and Malaria combined) and primarily affects women and children. The challenge is particularly acute in the sprawling slums and informal settlements of the developing world, where space for outdoor cooking is limited, where incomes are low and clean fuels expensive, and where awareness for the risks and costs of unclean cooking is low. Here, the indoor air pollution risks are coupled with grave risk of shack/slum settlement fires that frequently destroy lives and livelihoods.

The global informal urban population is growing rapidly, with staggering projections for future growth in Sub-Saharan Africa. Consequently, this sector is certain to have an unprecedented role to play in global efforts to improve public health and build resilient cities and communities.

SDI understands that slum and informal settlement upgrading is the number one solution for improving health outcomes in developing cities and its efforts in this respect contribute greatly to reduce indoor air pollution and risk of fire. A clean cooking initiative for improving public health in slum communities augments SDI's incremental upgrading efforts and provides valuable intermediary solutions for the poorest households - especially women and children. SDI's bottom-up, slum dweller led efforts will not only improve public health, but have significant co-benefits to environmental well-being, economic livelihoods, and reduced disaster risk.

Especially relevant SDGs

Intended Impact: Healthier women and children in slums

As with all of SDI’s work, the vision of success for this project is to unite and empower the urban poor in a way that places women in a central role so that they can articulate their own aspirations for change and develop their capacity, from the local to the global, to improve the lives of those living in slums.

In this project, the vision of success will be realized through the organization of slum dwelling communities – with special focus on women and youth - to organize, design and implement clean cooking interventions with the potential for implementation at city-wide scale.

Intended Outcomes

Outcome 1: Organized urban poor communities through collective action for clean cooking improve health and safety in slum settlements.

Outcome 2: Organized urban poor communities create and benefit from increased livelihood opportunities through green enterprise creation.

Outcome 3: Organized urban poor communities are active partners in the global clean cooking agenda.

Workstream 1: Baseline Research

SDI joins the Global Alliance for Clean Cooking

SDI joined the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves in 2017. As a member, SDI has engaged with the regional offices in West and East Africa. SDI staff have reviewed country profiles and stove and fuel guides as well as taken part in various webinars to build capacity in the clean cooking field.

Actionable partnership strategies were identified by GACC and SDI in January 2017. These included: 1) Information sharing, especially "testing communication channels and creative concepts"; 2) Behavior change and market activation, especially "behavior change communication through savings groups and settlement forums" and potentially link to Know Your City data; 3) SDI to explore "supercharging" small start-up enterprises already in the GACC network.

Local partners consultations in South Africa, Ghana, Zimbabwe and Kenya were an essential first step in the baseline research. The SDI slum dweller federations and support professionals met with government departments, cookstove suppliers, manufacturers, local authorities, NGOs with experience in the area, and research institutions (clean cooking and enterprise development).

Know Your City: Profiling, enumeration and Sensemaking

Given that the arena of clean cooking is new to the SDI network, we needed to begin with a period of baseline research. As a network that prides itself on investing in and valuing local slum dweller knowledge, strengthening slum dweller organizing capacities, and supporting collective local action, this process could not be undertaken by a consultant or research institution. It had to be undertaken by communities themselves.

To do this, slum dweller federations in Accra, Cape Town, Nairobi and Harare used one of the most useful tools in the SDI toolkit - profiling and enumeration - which is the fundamental building block of the Know Your City campaign.

KYC Ghana: The Ghana slum dweller federation conducted profiling in six different communities - administering the survey to 2,700 households. These communities were purposely selected based on their demographic and socio-economic features. Poor coastal communities James Town and Chorkor, where unclean fish smoking is prevalent were selected. Densely populated suburbs were also selected; Ashaiman, Sukura and Madina Zongo. The enumeration took place over a period of three weeks.

The Ghana results showed 93% of households in the surveyed settlements use charcoal as their primary fuel type and that the "charcoal coalpot" is the most common stove. Most households think that "cooking fast" and "improved comfort" are the priorities for improved cookstoves.

KYC Zimbabwe In Zimbabwe, 95% of the respondents mentioned that if inhaled the smoke from their coal stoves causes headaches, body weakening and respiratory challenges, especially to small children. 95% of the respondents indicated that they own and use at least two stoves for cooking. This is meant to reduce inconvenience in case one runs out of fuel. The two most common stoves are gas and coal, with most women saying they own and use both. The choice of stove depends on the food to be prepared. Food such as beans, beef meat and intestines require long cooking times, so charcoal and open fires are preferred.


The federations in South Africa and Ghana also used innovative tools for gathering qualitative data to maximize story-telling as a method for understanding community priorities, experiences and cooking preferences. SenseMaker is a data collection application developed by Cognitive Edge that allows people to create customized web-sites for the collection of micro-narratives, also known as 'story fragments', from a broad population. The formatting and presentation of both the micro-narrative prompting questions as well as the signification questions allowed SDI to customize the tool for our cookstoves work.

People's stories inform the way they make decisions. People use fragmented material to make sense of the world around them. The tool helps understand people's preferences and choices and SDI thought it a useful tool for supporting an understanding of the clean cooking space in informal settlements. It enables quick identification of (visual, quantifiable) patterns around the pre-defined topics/domains of interest

Below see a video of the community administering the Sensemaker tool in Ghana. Some of the findings in the form of "story fragments" are shown on the next page. In 2 weeks, the Ghana federation was able to collect over 700 stories.

Selection of Ghana story-fragments

I prefer to use the charcoal than the gas. Sometimes it is dangerous using gas as a source of fuel. The charcoal is convenient for me and my safety.

I use charcoal as my source of fuel to cook. Is good and less expensive, but the heat that comes off the coalpot is my problem.

These matches and candles are killing us. We lost most of our properties due to burning. In most cases it doesn't burn only that person's room.

I use charcoal as my source of fuel. It sometimes tedious to use because of the dust that comes out of it. But is very good and you don't spend a lot.

I use coalpot to cook and use charcoal as my source the fuel is good, but sometimes it's problematic because of the ashes and the heat that comes out of it.

My grandson picked matches and was playing with it alone. Suddenly he lighted the matches and the mattress caught fire. The boy got burned and since then he had big big scars on his face and other parts of the body.

For cooking I prefer the charcoal because I am afraid of the gas.

I use charcoal to cook because gas is too dangerous for my kids.

The community that I live in we don't have access to electricity. The government has declared our abode as an informal settlement. I have been here for the past 10 years and I haven't see electricity power here before . I use a candle to light my room and firewood to cook.

I use charcoal as my source fuel is good to cook with but sometimes it takes time before you can light it. I can't use the gas because of afraid of it.

I use charcoal as my source of fuel to cook. The charcoal is good but the heat that comes out of the coalpot is high and is not good for my health.

I use gas, but it's very dangerous to me because if you don't take care it can burn you and your house. But it is very fast when using it to cook.

Someone was using an electric rice cooker and when they were stirring it gave the person a shock . This really disturbed the person.

I use charcoal as a source of fuel to cook as I am a food vendor. The heat that comes out of it is too much sometimes it can even burn you. When I go for a check up in the hospital the doctor will tell me there is much heat in me.

I use firewood to cook Kenkey and the smoke damages my eyes and health.

South African Sensemaking

The South African federation has gathered over 50 stories in the Siyahlala informal settlement, Cape Town. They are presently analyzing the emerging patterns in these stories.

Analyzing Sensemaker data from Ghana

Energy Justice Community Forums

Settlement and city level forums are a critical space for community-led planning, knowledge production and dissemination, community consensus building, reflection, partner engagement, monitoring and evaluation. As such, SDI incorporated these forums as a key element of the baseline research phase to ensure this was done at a local level.

Energy Justice Forums: Ghana

In June 2017, GHAFUP (Ghana Federation of the Urban Poor) and support NGO, PD (People’s Dialogue) convened a Renewable Energy Open Forum. The forum was attended by slum community members from Jamestown and Bukom as well as the EC (Energy Commission;) KYC TV (Know Your City Television); CDO (Community Development Officers); ECG (Electricity Company of Ghana).

In Ghana, the federation’s renewable energy program comprises solar and clean cookstove initiatives. During the clean cooking portion of the forum the federation and PD explained their efforts to expand access to ICS (Improved Cook Stoves). The federation aims to establish a fund which will create access to loans for clean cookstoves. Slum dwellers will repay these micro loans through the savings group framework. The primary target beneficiaries will be federated members - both households and fish smoking market vendors.

Remarks from members of the forum: a) It is good to include fishmongers as it encourages entrepreneurship; b) It also facilitates income generating activities for the youth; c) It will minimise the significant cost of firewood; d) It is suggested that health officials be part of the partnership. They can educate people on the dangers of open fires and smoke.

The forum also interrogated the federation’s livelihood model for delivering solar home kits and the implications for delivery of the cookstoves. Key conclusions: a) Community leaders expressed challenges collecting repayments owing to transport costs incurred; b) Support NGO for the federation has signed up to the mobile money payment platform which may support this process more effectively; c) It was noted that access to clean energy services has a co-benefit on increasing savings and number of savings groups in settlements. d) Energy forum is an effective vehicle for community-government dialogue of increasing access to clean energy for the urban poor.

Energy Justice Forums: South Africa

At the first Federation of the Urban and Rural Poor (FEDUP) Central Network clean cooking forum in Cape Town, slum dweller federation ladies explained the significant challenges posed by unclean cooking and heating. This is a unique element of the South Africa informal settlements situation. Women explained how they use paraffin for cooking and heating and the chest pain and nasal congestion they experience. Most emphatically they lamented the frequent accidents, injuries and shack fires caused by paraffin cookers and heaters, reciting terrible stories of injury and property loss. They explained how expensive paraffin and kerosene becomes in the Winter (when distributors hike their prices) and how far they have to travel to purchase it. They explained that they prefer to buy fuel in small quantities due to unreliable incomes. The upfront cost of a gas canister is also prohibitive and the tanks hard to carry around settlements. They said electricity is expensive and is frequently cut off in the settlements.

Energy Justice Forums: Zimbabwe

In Zimbabwe the federation convened a cooking exhibition and forum in Dzivarasekwa informal settlement, Harare, to share information on various cooking stoves. The major aim was to understand existing cooking practice and challenges and to explore the demand that exists for cleaner stoves. Dzivarasekwa communities were joined by slum dwellers from Crowborough, Hopely and Caledonia informal settlements. Families from these communities are all off-grid and considered illegal settlements by the City of Harare.

The women came with various cook stoves which were the subject of discussion. The household cook stoves were categorized into solid and liquid fuel cook stoves. Solid fuel cook stoves included open fire, tsotso, charcoal and sawdust stoves, while liquid stoves are the ones which use any petroleum fuel including jelly.

Women reported that headaches, coughs, chest pains and dizziness were some of the health challenges faced during or after use of wood, charcoal and paraffin stoves.

Peer-to-peer exchange

A leader from the Zimbabwe slum dwellers federation visited the South African federation and took part in the Energy Committee planning meetings. They shared lessons on their profiling and enumeration work and the KYC TV documentation. The South Africans shared lessons on the Sensemaking work done and how it contributed to their understanding of the clean cooking arena.

A team from the SDI Secretariat visited the Hout Bay informal settlement in South Africa to see the Philips cookstoves in operation, speak to community members using the stoves, selling the fuel and in charge of maintenance. This exchange resulted in a partnership and Joint Venture agreement with Clean Cooking Revolution (CCR).

Federation members from South Africa and Ghana had an exchange to design the Sensemaker signifier framework for the Sensemaker tool for gathering qualitative data on cooking behavior, preferences and stove and fuel availability. The exchange was co-hosted by the Sustainability Institute in Stellenbosch, South Africa.

Workstream 2: Distribution plans

Which stove?

Zimbabwe leaders test stoves sold by AVSI in Mozambique
Philips Stove distributed by Clean Cooking Revolution (CCR) South Africa

At a forum held in the Gugulethu informal settlement, Cape Town, the federation held a demonstration of the Philips cook stove above and cooked a lunch on the stove in order to test out the technology. It was a chance to interrogate the price, the functionality, the fuel, and ask questions. Key reflections from the meeting were: 1. The stove and fuel will enable families to cook much more cheaply than they can on gas or electricity (approximately 5 rand per day); 2. The stove is cool to touch and doesn't produce toxic smoke; 3. The stove doubles as a heater and will be much cheaper to use than other sources for heating; 4. The stove can't easily be knocked over; 5. The stove can serve as a backup for homes when power goes out for extended periods.

Distribution plans: South Africa

SDI launched a joint venture under the title of Partnership on Clean Cooking Projects in Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa. The collaboration covers the provision of Clean Cooking Revolution (CCR) with ‘seed capital’ to enable the scaling of CCR’s operations into new markets as defined by the South African SDI Alliance (SASDI). In addition the collaboration aims to pilot an innovative model of community part-ownership (‘equity’) of a social enterprise as a strategy for Federation income generation as well enhancing community’s access to clean, reliable, safe cookstove technologies.

SDI will provide project level support, assistance in the identification of new settlements with a demonstrated need for ICS, as well as strategic advice to SASDI regarding how to structure a recoverable investment with CCR.

Distribution plans: Ghana

In Ghana, the federation has signed an MOA with SNV to create a sustainable market for improved cook stoves and with the Institute for Sustainable Energy and Environmental Solutions (ISEES) to support sale and supply of the fuel for the stoves for this critical market player in the Ghana clean cooking space.

ISEES and Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has a long and extensive expertise in setting up training programs for training of local artisans in the design and construction of stoves. It is recommended that a stoves program built on this expertise and also involve institutions such as GRATIS Ghana Foundation for inputs and tools for the manufacturing chain. In addition to training in the physical production of the stoves, these new set ups (primarily federation members) would need start-up equipment and materials and advice on future pricing, as well as insight into marketing and promotion and quality assurance. Minimum quality standards for efficient stoves need to be established and indicators for monitoring communicated to artisans.

Improved stoves are sensitive to rough handling and need to be stacked well to avoid damages during transportation. Federation members who would be trained and drafted as artisans under this project are to be well distributed in all major urban areas and production of stove parts and assembly would be done at a decentralised level provided that the needed materials are readily available. The challenging part is to get the stoves to the customers at low costs. Use of “road shows” to follow up on and coordinated with community education activities could be an effective way to reach high sales in short time. Follow up sales would be done by tricycles able to go door to door. It is important to reach high penetration rates from the outset to reduce cost of distribution and means to encourage this should be explored by the federation.

Zimbabwe reflections on distribution

"Dissatisfaction with the current status was observed during the surveys and at the exhibition/forum. Generally, people are aware of the health problems caused by unclean cooking methods and might be using them because economics rule; therefore, when provided with an alternative that is affordable and accessible communities will bit by bit migrate to clean cooking technologies. Furthermore, the scarcity and government restrictions on the use of fire wood and increasing cost of both fire wood and kerosene can be a major driver towards the switching to clean cooking solutions. The effect of availability and access to savings and credit facilities through the Gungano Fund cannot be underestimated. This is a major catalyst in motivating the communities to acquire the products. In this regard, we strongly recommend that it pilots initiatives and further research of different sizes and type be implemented in different slums depending on availability of raw materials."

Energy surveys have enlightened the Alliance on the depth of energy poverty and need in slum communities. Therefore, going forward energy surveys should always be an integral part of future profiles and enumerations that the Alliance will undertake.

Manufacturer partnerships

In South Africa the partnership with CCR has the potential to lead to manufacturer partnerships since CRR works closely with a manufacturing plant in Lesotho. The federation will feed knowledge back to CCR about product use experience and adaptations that women in informal settlements prioritize. Future partnership may therefore extend to the manufacturing space.

In Kenya, the federation is exploring a partnership with ICChange to develop and test stoves and design a product targeting the Mukuru community of 100,000 households. It will also investigate the use of household sensors that measure indoor pollution and indicate when a stove should be taken outside. This will build upon work done by the Kenya federation as part of a previous project partnership with SEI to understand clean cooking and indoor air pollution.

Workstream 3: Awareness campaigns

KYC TV videos for awareness and marketing

Youth from slum dweller federations in Ghana, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Zimbabwe were trained in the art of media production in order to document the present state of cooking in their settlement and to produce film and media to raise awareness for the dangers of unclean cooking. Using the data gathered through profiling and enumeration and the Sensemaking work, they are able to target the message effectively.

This Public Service Announcement was made by KYC TV especially for a Facebook feed. It doesn't need sound as it's text based.

See a short documentary made by KYC TV Zimbabwe below.

These teams will be used for production of marketing materials as well as monitoring and evaluation of health impact.

Awareness Campaign Plans

Slum Dwellers Cookbook

When women from slum communities throughout the SDI network come together a topic that often unites is cooking. What do you call pap in your country? How do you cook pumpkin leaves? The rice in your country tastes strange. As a means of raising awareness for clean cooking, SDI is working on a Clean Cooking Slum Dweller Cookbook. Using photos taken by the KYC TV team and recipes from women throughout the network, SDI hopes it will be an effective way to raise awareness for the dangers of unclean cooking.

Link to SDI's Global Poverty Fighter Campaign

SDI's Global Poverty Fighter Campaign profiles slum community leaders combating global poverty in settlements throughout Africa, Asia and Latin America. As the clean cooking project develops, it will be profiled as part of this global campaign.

Challenges and lessons

• In the South Africa case, women prioritized having a stove that can also heat the home, since so many people use paraffin heaters. It was clear that families would continue to use paraffin heaters with a clean stove if it did not heat and therefore nullify all benefits of the stove. Thus, the federation chose the Philips stove, which doubles as a heater.

• In all countries, having the community gather data and do the baseline research for themselves serves as an awareness-raising and demand generation exercise. While many studies exist, the settlement-wide surveys undertaken by the federation offer more granular data and the process is highly effective for generating discussion, reflection and trust in the data. The community meetings and forums were particularly effective as it gave an opportunity to ask many questions and hear the questions of peers. It is critical that the community get to test the stoves at these meetings. Women with very low incomes need to understand whether the product will serve their needs and be cost effective. Having community members do the calculations for themselves was the most effective way to produce this knowledge.

• “Stove dumping” would be quite easy in terms of meeting project “targets”, but SDI’s commitment to outcome level, sustainable change prohibits such an approach. As such the process moves slowly. While we knew this from the outset, things moved even more slowly than expected. Communities are suspicious of new technology and lofty claims of health benefit. Demand generation requires patience, peer-to-peer dialogue, and testing of options. Critically, the cost must be lower than the existing method for behavior change.

• “Stove dumping” is also unsustainable because it ignores fuel supply demands. The federations are using their networks (already established convenings of savings groups throughout a slum settlement) to anchor distribution of stoves, fuel and maintenance services. Since SDI also intends for the intervention to benefit livelihoods through green enterprise, the interventions have to be socialized on two fronts: one, the health and safety benefits of clean cooking and also the opportunities to establish support business.

• Though LPG gas is widely held (by the global community) be a clean and safe cooking fuel, communities in Ghana and South Africa consider it to be highly unsafe, citing stories of explosions and shack fires.

Way forward

1. SDI to evaluate and support refinement of affiliate distribution plans in Ghana and Zimbabwe

2. Disseminate information at regional Hubs in West, East and Southern Africa and identify other mentee countries

3. Schedule exchanges between mentor and mentee affiliates and between implementing mentor countries

4. Monitor and document success of the CCR enterprise “supercharging” effort in South Africa federation and explore other such pilots

5. Co-design monitoring and evaluation framework for assessing health benefit

6. Explore opportunity for federations to enter the value chain for stove and or fuel production

7. Produce cookbook and link to GPF Campaign

8. Develop KYC TV multimedia marketing materials to support campaigns and product sales

SDI affiliates working on clean cooking

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