Adapting for Adoption: Using CLA to Scale-Up Adoption of Improved Cook Stoves in Malawi
The PERFORM activity promotes forest conservation and green growth, and contributes directly to the Mission's goal of improved quality of life. This is no small task as more than 96% of Malawians rely on firewood and charcoal for their household cooking and heating. This demand for woodfuel, which is increasing from year-to-year with population growth, is driving forest cover loss. This in turn undermines agricultural productivity and food security, water security, and hydroelectric generating capacity—leaving the country more vulnerable to shocks. While forest cover loss impacts the country as a whole, direct impacts are greatest on the lives of the 80% of Malawians living in rural areas, most of whom are subsistence farmers practicing rain-fed agriculture and relying on forests and other natural resources for food, fiber and livelihood support. Recognizing that increasing adoption of improved cook stoves (ICS) is the most immediate way to slow forest cover loss, PERFORM included ICS promotion in the design and implementation of our integrated site-based activities. This said, we were also aware that ICS were not new to Malawi. Our baseline assessment (BA) showed that while 80% to 90% of households surveyed were aware of ICS, only 12% of households surveyed had adopted an ICS. With this information, we understood that increasing adoption of ICS would require cycles of learning and adaption of our approach. Over a period of three years we implemented a series of CLA-related activities to increase our understanding of the factors influencing adoption, and ultimately, to increase ICS adoption. This included: the BA; an ICS Learning Study; a quantitative assessment of ICS-related knowledge, attitudes, and practices; development and delivery of an ICS Social Marketing Behavior Change (SMBC) campaign; communication of our findings through national fora; and, subsequently the provision of SMBC training to others promoting ICS in Malawi. As a result, we have improved our service delivery, achieved higher ICS adoption rates, and the results have influenced other ICS advocates to adopt similar approaches.
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