Challenges to improved cookstove adoption in urban Kenya

Research Team

Anita Shankar
Research Associate, Dept of Environmental Health and Engineering, School of Public Health
Contact Dr. Shankar

Shyam Biswal
Professor, Dept of Environmental Health and Engineering, School of Public Health

Thomas Sussan
Research Associate, Dept of Environmental Health and Engineering, School of Public Health

Peter Winch
Professor, Department of International Health, School of Public Health

In many developing countries, traditional cookstoves are widely used for daily meal preparations. Traditional cookstoves emit significant amounts of black carbon, also known as soot, and is a major contributor to chronic and acute respiratory illnesses among women and children in developing countries, such as pneumonia, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). High efficiency, low emission improved cookstoves (ICS) is available in today’s market. However, adoption rates of ICS is less than 20% in developing countries and points to a critical need to understand underlying user preferences and hidden costs beyond health in the design and delivery of ICS.

Doctors Shankar, Biswal, Sussan and Winch are researching the relative impacts of female entrepreneurs on empowering people to adopt and use ICS in Kenya. They will also examine how the intra-household dynamics and decision-making as well as knowledge of ICS benefits may influence ICS uptake as well as impact on consistent and sustained ICS use by adoptees. This includes looking at how external and intra-household relations shape decisions regarding energy and technology acquisition and use. This also includes looking at factors that influence women’s bargaining power, such as women’s control over assets and resources and female employment and earnings. Through this research project, the team aims to obtain data needed to develop and test behavioral interventions to increase the ICS adoption rate – and ultimately improve the health of women and children worldwide.


"Cookstoves and Indoor Air," Global Environmental Health, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. 

Impact Areas: Environment, Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. 


Shankar, A. (2015). "Strategically engaging women in clean energy solutions for sustainable development and health." GSDR 2015 Brief. 

Smith, G. and Shankar, A. (2015). "Empowered Entrepreneur Training Handbook." Global Aliance for Clean Cookstoves. 

Other related research at Hopkins

Assessing the contribution of black carbon generated by cookstoves across Southern Nepal and Northern India, 2011-12 E²SHI seed grant project.

Photo credit: Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves

The whole problem of health, in soil, plant, animal, and man is one great subject.
— Sir Albert Howard