The role of woodfuel saving cookstoves in coping with fuelwood shortages, with a focus on food preparation patterns in Kisii district, Kenya
A cross sectional study was carried out in Kisii District to compare fuelwood consumption and food preparation patterns of households using improved cookstoves with those using traditional cookstoves. A sample of 196 households was selected using multistage sampling from four purposively selected sub-locations with the highest utilization of improved cookstoves. A pretested questionnaire was administered and a sub-sample of 120 households was observed. Results show that improved cookstove households used significantly less fuel than the traditional cookstove households. Fuel saving increased with cooking time, hence, the longer the cooking time, the higher the fuel saving. Fuelwood was the cheapest fuel in the area, and most households gathered the fuelwood from their farms, while six percent exclusively purchased their fuelwood. A few households supplemented fuelwood from the main source with collections from roadside and neighbours' farms. Fuelwood was mainly collected by women and children. It was found that the two groups of households spent similar amounts of time per trip on the collection of fuelwood, but improved cookstove households collected fuelwood less frequently compared to the traditional cookstove households. There was no significant variations ln the food preparation patterns between the two groups, implying that fuelwood problem has not yet had significant impact on food preparation patterns. Food preparation patterns were affected more by availability of food and time for its preparation than by lack of fuelwood. It was also established that longer duration cooking dishes cooked faster on an improved cookstove while shorter duration cooking dishes cooked faster on a traditional cookstove. In conclusion, use of improved cookstoves reduces· the demand for fuelwood, and hence, not only saves time for other activities, for instance, crop production, but also contributes towards environmental conservation. It is recommended that widespread dissemination of information and accessibility to the improved cookstoves should be established in order to plan for their increased use.