- Less than 15% of Ugandans use an energy efficient cookstove, despite significant health risks, fuel costs, and ongoing efforts by the government and the global community.
- The government of Uganda has outlined a national Biomass Energy Strategy to address the issue.
- A US$2.2 million ESMAP grant is helping to implement a unique approach to achieve increased adoption rates of efficient, clean cookstoves.
Nearly 95% of Ugandans still use solid biomass fuels for cooking, such as charcoal and wood. These fuels have become increasingly expensive due to the escalating pressure on forest resources and a rapidly expanding population. Currently, Uganda has the second highest birth rate in the world and the fifth highest rate of deforestation in Sub-Saharan Africa. Solid biomass fuels also pose a significant threat to the health of household family members through exposure to indoor air pollution, which currently affects over 35 million people and causes over 13,000 premature deaths every year in Uganda.
Even though the potential market for improved cookstoves is quite high—more than 4.5 million households in rural areas and 1.5 million in the urban centers—the rate of adoption of more efficient and cleaner cookstoves nationally has remained below 15%.
To respond to this challenge, the Government of Uganda has outlined a National Biomass Energy Strategy which has as one if its objectives to scale up adoption of efficient charcoal fuel stoves from the current 20,000 to 2.5 million households and efficient wood stoves from 170,000 to 4 million by 2017. The strategy is developed around a framework that coordinates the Ministries of Health, Housing, Environment, and Energy, emphasizing the need to utilize biomass energy efficiently in order to manage the resource in a sustainable manner.
Past efforts to improve adoption rates in Uganda have focused on increasing the supply of cookstoves. However, product quality and a corresponding supply chain have not materialized. The weak supply chain limits access to more advanced technology, chokes demand growth, and ultimately leads to a market failure.
The World Bank, through its Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP), has provided a US$2.2 million grant in support of this effort to be disbursed through the Uganda Clean Cooking Supply Chain Expansion Project. The project takes a unique approach for increasing adoption rates by focusing on value chain integration and results-based commercial distribution through the Distribution Challenge Fund (DCF) competition.
The DCF will provide competitive grants to encourage partnerships between manufacturers and distributers to expand the commercial distribution of eligible products and carry out high-impact marketing and sales campaigns. The competitive grants and incentives will reduce cost and risk for manufacturers, which will boost market penetration and free up manufacturers’ resources to expand and upgrade their production capacity. By incentivizing distributors to progressively make available more efficient, cleaner stoves that consumers want to use, the project allows consumers to drive the demand and help build economies of scale.
In preparation for the project, ESMAP conducted The Willingness to Pay and Consumer Acceptance Assessment for Clean Cooking in Uganda. The 10-week trial showed that efficient, clean cookstoves on average displaced 60% of traditional cooking resulting in about 25% of fuel savings. The assessment also found that when stove purchase installment plans were offered, the consumers’willingness to pay increased considerably. The results have informed the shortlisting of candidate products for competition under the DCF.
With this project, the Government of Uganda can potentially tackle environmental degradation and natural resource depletion, increase disposable income through household savings, while gradually steering the market toward technologies that can engender positive health outcomes.
Read more about the ESMAP Energy Access Program