Socio-economic factors influencing adoption of improved biomass energy technologies in rural and urban households in Kitui, Kenya
Improved biomass energy technologies and alternative biomass fuels were introduced in Kitui (Kenya) as alternative renewable source of energy following domestic energy crisis. Despite these noble efforts, the adoption level of the technologies and fuels has remained low. Thus, this study aimed at investigating the socio-economic factors that influence the current adoption of improved biomass energy technologies for cooking and households’ acceptance and willingness to switch from one fuel and technology to another in rural and urban Kitui Central with a view to future uptake of alternative biomass fuels and improved biomass energy technologies for cooking. The study was conducted in rural and urban regions of Kitui Central. A conceptual framework based on adoption theories guided the analysis of factors influencing adoption of technologies and fuels. It focused on five different biomass fuels: firewood, charcoal, briquettes, biogas, and Jatropha oil and on eight different improved biomass energy technologies for cooking. The study used both qualitative and quantitative approaches of data collection and analysis. The research study used questionnaires, interview schedule, photography and observation in data collection. For the structured survey of 100 households, it employed a stratified sampling procedure involving disproportionate stratification of rural and urban households. Chi square and Phi tests were used to analyse statistical relationships of variables. The results are presented in bar charts, percentages and means. The study found out that household wealth play an important role in adopting improved biomass energy technologies for cooking. Adoption of biogas and briquette fuels and improved firewood technologies is low in the study area. No adoption of liquid biofuel and briquette technology in the study area. Rural and urban households show a distinct pattern of adoption with regard to biomass fuels and technologies due to different level of awareness, household wealth, perceptions and constraints. Various stakeholders are focusing on improving access to affordable and reliable alternative biomass fuels and technologies for cooking. They have generally not achieved their targets due to lack of infrastructure, inadequate man power and misguided perceptions by the households. Overall, the study reveals that rural and urban households show quite a distinct pattern of acceptance with regard to the five biomass fuels due to their different availability, current knowledge about the fuels and different socio-economic situations of the households. There is v a distinct pattern on the specific improved biomass energy technologies households are willing to adopt due to different preferences. The rural and urban households’ acceptance of biomass fuels and improved biomass technologies and willingness to switch to alternative fuels indicates possibilities and options for the future uptake. The study recommends creation of awareness on the available alternative biomass fuels and improved technologies. There is need to train households on the effective use of the available biomass energy technologies. Quality and performance standards as outlined by government and regulatory bodies should be ensured. Selection of clean cooking technologies should incorporate user preferences and be based on the local context. Knowledge sharing by the adopters should also be encouraged in the area and more data on stove efficiency and emissions under field conditions are required.