these ostensibly improved stoves were used
infrequently in the village.
Other notable “day in the life” observations included the time and effort expended
to collect wood—up to two hours per day,
with bundles weighing from 14 to 22 kilograms carried distances of up to 4 kilometers—and the varied methods, from lighting
straw or plastic to borrowing burning coals
used to start fires. Women also preferred to
prepare meals inside a kitchen and hot water
outside the kitchen and they used multiple
cookstoves for different types of meals
and meal sizes (the three-stone fire is most
commonly used). Perhaps the most notable
observation, however, is that the culinary
chain—gathering wood, preparing cooking
ingredients, cooking meals, serving food,
eating and cleaning—constitutes 65 percent
of time that a married mother spends on
daily chores and activities.
These findings and data suggest that cookstove adoption might increase if women believed, on balance, that the cookstove reduced
their workload relative to existing practices.
after participant observations suggested a
high prevalence of stove stacking—the use
of multiple cookstoves, each with a specific
purpose—we looked to quantify the extent of
stacking using data collected from surveys of
cookstove ownership and use. These surveys
were accompanied by in-depth interviews to
understand owner decisions.
cooking in the village spans six types of meals
and five other non-meal cooking tasks see Table
3. The meals include two different types of
breakfast porridges and lunches and dinners involved either a thick or thin porridge with a sauce
or steamed rice or couscous, with variations on
each. The tasks include chores such as heating
water, roasting peanuts, or making medicine.
We found five types of cookstoves in the
village. Most prevalent was the traditional
three-stone open fire, with the cooking ves-
sel balanced on stones over the burning
wood. another traditional type of stove
is the gakourouwana, where the cooking
vessel rests on a U-shaped support of mud
or clay. There were also hand-crafted metal
cookstoves made in Mali, and two types of
improved stoves—a low-thermal-capacity
stove made from clay and straw blocks and
a manufactured metal cookstove that has
been distributed worldwide. The two kinds of
improved cookstoves had been given away by
a non-governmental organization one to two
years before our study, see Table 4.
around half the women we surveyed
engaged in stove stacking (they owned more
than one stove). Nearly all own a traditional
three-stone fire or a traditional gakourouwana
cookstove, about 15 percent own both types of
traditional cookstoves and 43.9 percent own
a traditional cookstove as well as an improved
cookstove. Interestingly, approximately 40
percent of women shared cookstoves. due to
the extended family structure in the village,
there are often multiple cooks per household.
Often, women owned two or more three-stone fires so they could cook both indoors
and outdoors. Meals were usually prepared in
the enclosed kitchen, but during especially hot
weather they were prepared outside. Hot water was generally prepared on an outdoor fire.
Portable improved cookstoves were used more
frequently than stationary cookstoves in the
hot season because the stationary cookstoves
could not be moved outside the kitchen.
Not a single woman owned only improved
cookstoves—one of several strong indicators
that improved cookstoves do not address
all cooking needs in the village. No one
who owned an improved cookstove used it
frequently. Improved cookstoves were used to
heat water and cook meals, but only traditional fires were used for activities such as roasting peanuts, making medicine and processing
shea, see Table 5.
What’s more, families with over 15 people,
which accounted for approximately one-half
of the village population, rarely used improved
stoves because their large meals and large pots
exceeded weight and size limitations of the
improved stoves. The improved stoves were
also too small or lacked the durability required
Number of cookstoves
(% of total cooks)b
TSF GK LTC HCM MM
1 cookstove (52.0%)
2 cookstoves (35.8%)
3 cookstoves ( 8.1%)
4 cookstoves ( 2.4%) 3
5 cookstoves ( 1.6%) 2
TO TAL COOKS
(% of total cooks)c
a Three-stone fire ( TSF), gakourou wana (GK), lo w thermal capacity (L TC), hand-crafted metal (HCM), manufactured metal (MM). bPercentages do not add
to 100% due to rounding. c Percentages do not add to 100% because some women own multiple cookstoves.
It's common for women within the same family to have
separate kitchens and cookstoves.