How do Cameroonians cook?
StovePlus will release a report on the "Baseline study of cooking habits in the Douala region" conducted in western Cameroon.
This study analyses household cooking habits, the existing devices and fuels market; it identifies the needs and opportunities for the dissemination of improved cooking devices; and evaluates health, economic, and environmental impacts.
What’s the purpose of this study in Cameroon?
In a country with more than 22 million inhabitants, 52% live in urban areas. In Cameroon, inhabitants rely mainly on wood for cooking and heating. In 2010, 79% of the population were using solid fuels.It is worth noting that the country has great wood resources. The forests of the Congo Basin are the second largest forested area in the world after the Amazon rainforest and they cover 68% of the country (Global Forest Watch, 2016). The deforestation rate reached 0.98% each year between 2000 and 2005 (Mongabay, 2016).
Cookstoves, a solution to be improved?
With improved cookstoves (ICS), end-users need less fuel for cooking; the devices should also decrease the time and effort required to gather firewood and reduce harmful smoke.
For households, it means to lower expenses, lessen the time spent and burden of collecting fuel, and reduce health risks due to the improved technology. For the environment, it will result in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and pressure on forest cover.
The context in Cameroon
The authors note the availability of ICS on the market. Some models, locally produced, are subsidized or distributed free of charge. Some others follow traditional patterns (producers – resellers) and they are sold at the current market price. These are rudimentary systems for distributing ICS that can be improved.
Attempts to disseminate more advanced devices have been made, however, the end-users were unwilling to adopt them. The characteristics of the devices didn’t convince the end-users to invest (especially for the most expensive ones).Concerns raised included the devices being too small in size, the firepower being too low, and according to the models, the lifetime being too short (wood overload and long-term use), and the cookstoves being difficult to handle.
However, some other devices can address these issues using wood, charcoal, or wood pellets. For example, wood pellets can be used with gasifiers and exploit abundant and little-used resources.
Households and cookstoves, a possible adoption
The study shows a greater use of wood fuel by the poorest households and inhabitants living in rural localities. The abundance of wood in rural areas explains why it is the fuel of choice.
In urban areas, the richest usually cook with gas and, occasionally, with charcoal. The poorest families use charcoal.
The authors find that the poorest households, especially in rural areas, would be the main targets of these new technologies.
The next step is to evaluate the opportunities for these new technologies and decide which fuels should be adopted.
Should these new technologies be appropriate for use in Cameroon, it would be necessary to strengthen and develop the market. In addition, it would require the promotion of the devices and recommended fuel along with training for sellers, recommendations for uses, access to finance, and facilitating the purchase of relatively expensive equipment. Sellers, therefore, can play an important role in facilitating the adoption of the fuels and devices.
For the production of devices, producers should be trained according to the selected designs that match the needs and demands of the people. To ensure the success of these devices, prices and impacts for end-users should be analysed and cooking practices monitored.
There are several steps required in order for the long-term adoption of ICS, but this diagnostic remains a positive step for developing the nascent market in Cameroon.
This study was funded by Total.