Why Clean Cooking Programs Fail Among Rural Women? A Female User-Centered View from Uttar Pradesh, India


  • J Wang Independent Researcher, China




clean cooking, women’s health, rural environmental health, women’s consumption behavior, clean technology adoption


Many clean cooking programs around the world have invested in women to lead in the transition to cleaner cookstoves. However, in rural India, the lack of uptake from women is a major problem that has undermined the success of programs which expect women to act as champions of clean cookstoves in their community. To inform the theory of change of women-centered clean cooking programs and support future policymaking and programming in this field, this paper aims to address the knowledge gap on consumers’ – and especially women’s - attitude, knowledge and choice behavior towards improved cookstoves. In this paper, I use data from the ACCESS survey, collected in 2015 in Uttar Pradesh, to generate further gender-disaggregated evidence on the roles played by health impact awareness, intra-household power dynamics and access to finance on rural women’s behavior towards improved biomass cookstoves (IBCS). I identify the two most important shapers of women’s choice behavior towards IBCS as 1) level of satisfaction with traditional biomass cookstoves and 2) previous awareness and experience of IBCS. I find that Uttar Pradesh women are at once more unsatisfied with traditional unimproved biomass cooking practice, and more aware of IBCS technology. Whereas the former has a significant and positive effect in driving women towards adoption of IBCS, I find the latter in fact not only fails to mobilize demand but also undermines willingness to pay by about 40% on average. Through gender-lens market research in the improved biomass cookstoves market, this paper builds upon the evidence base for the design of more successful women-focused clean cooking programs.


Download data is not yet available.




Aklin, M.; Cheng, C.; Ganesan, K.; Jain, A.; Urpelainen, J.; Council on Energy, Environment and Water. (2016). Access to Clean Cooking Energy and Electricity: Survey of States in India (ACCESS). Harvard Dataverse, V1.

Amacher, G. S., Hyde, W. F., & Joshee, B. R. (1992). The adoption of consumption technologies under uncertainty: A case of improved stoves in Nepal. Journal of Economic Development, 17(2), 93–105.

Barnes, D. F., Openshaw, K., Smith, K. R., Van der Plas, R., & Mundial, B. (1994). What makes people cook with improved biomass stoves? Washington, DC: World Bank.

Baumgartner, J., Schauer, J. J., Ezzati, M., Lu, L., Cheng, C., Patz, J., & Bautista, L. E. (2011). Patterns and predictors of personal exposure to indoor air pollution from biomass combustion among women and children in rural China. Indoor air, 21(6), 479-488.

Beyene, A. D., & Koch, S. F. (2013). Clean fuel-saving technology adoption in urban Ethiopia. Energy Economics, 36, 605–613.

Bhojvaid, V., Jeuland, M., Kar, A., Lewis, J. J., Pattanayak, S. K., Ramanathan, N., ... & Rehman, I. H. (2014). How do people in rural India perceive improved stoves and clean fuel? Evidence from Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 11(2), 1341-1358.

Brooks, N., Bhojvaid, V., Jeuland, M. A., Lewis, J. J., Patange, O., & Pattanayak, S. K. (2016). How much do alternative cookstoves reduce biomass fuel use? Evidence from North India. Resource and Energy Economics, 43, 153-171.

Duflo, E. (2003). Grandmothers and Granddaughters: Old‐Age Pensions and Intrahousehold Allocation in South Africa. The World Bank Economic Review, 17(1): 1-25.

Duflo, E. & Udry, C. (2003). Intrahousehold Resource Allocation in Côte

D'Ivoire: Social Norms, Separate Accounts and Consumption Choices. Economic Growth Center, Yale University.

Edwards, J. H., & Langpap, C. (2005). Startup costs and the decision to switch from firewood to gas fuel. Land Economics, 81(4), 570–586.

Hart, C., & Smith, G. (2013). Scaling adoption of clean cooking solutions through women’s empowerment: A resource guide. Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves.

Dasgupta, S., Huq, M., Khaliquzzaman, V., Pandey, K., & Wheeler, D. (2004). Indoor air quality for poor families: new evidence from Bangladesh. The World Bank.

Khandelwal, M., Hill Jr, M. E., Greenough, P., Anthony, J., Quill, M., Linderman, M., & Udaykumar, H. S. (2017). Why have improved cook-stove initiatives in India failed?. World Development, 92, 13-27.

Lewis, J. J., & Pattanayak, S. K. (2012). Who adopts improved fuels and cookstoves? A systematic review. Environmental Health Perspectives, 120(5), 637-645.

Malla, M. B., N. Bruce, E. Bates, and E. Rehfuess. 2011. "Applying global cost-benefit analysis methods to indoor air pollution mitigation interventions in Nepal, Kenya and Sudan: Insights and challenges." Energy Policy 39 (12):7518-7529.

Malla, S., & Timilsina, G. R. (2014). Household cooking fuel choice and adoption of improved cookstoves in developing countries: a review. The World Bank.

Mamuye, F., Lemma, B., & Woldeamanuel, T. (2018). Emissions and fuel use performance of two improved stoves and determinants of their adoption in Dodola, southeastern Ethiopia. Sustainable Environment Research, 28(1), 32-38.

Mohapatra, S., & Simon, L. (2017). Intra-household bargaining over household technology adoption. Review of Economics of the Household, 15(4), 1263-1290.

Miller, G., & Mobarak, A. M. (2013). Gender differences in preferences, intra-household externalities, and low demand for improved cookstoves (No. w18964). National Bureau of Economic Research.

Mohapatra, S., & Simon, L. (2015). Intra-household bargaining over household technology adoption. Review of Economics of the Household, 15(4), 1263–1290.

Mukhopadhyay, R., Sambandam, S., Pillarisetti, A., Jack, D., Mukhopadhyay, K., Balakrishnan, K., ... & Smith, K. (2012). Cooking practices, air quality, and the acceptability of advanced cookstoves in Haryana, India: an exploratory study to inform large-scale interventions. Global Health Action, 5(1), 19016.

Mohapatra, S., & Simon, L. (2015). Intra-household bargaining over household technology adoption. Review of Economics of the Household, 15(4), 1263–1290.

Narasimha, R. M., and Reddy, B. S. (2007). "Variations in energy use by Indian households: An analysis of micro level data." Energy 32 (2):143-153.

O’Dell, K., Irish, O., Maxted, S. J., & Peters, S. (2013). Generating consumer demand for clean cookstoves in base-of-pyramid markets: Insights for donors and charitable organizations. Deloitte University Press.

Pal, R. C., & Rehman, I. H. (2008). Efficient cookstove technology for improving the kitchen environment and livelihood for women in rural India. International Journal of Ambient Energy, 29(3), 137-148.

Person, B., Loo, J. D., Owuor, M., Ogange, L., Jefferds, M. E. D., & Cohen, A. L. (2012). “It is good for my family’s health and cooks food in a way that my heart loves”: Qualitative findings and implications for scaling up an improved cookstove project in rural Kenya. International Journal of Environmental Research and public health, 9(5), 1566-1580.

Rehfuess E.A., E. Puzzolo, D. Stanistreet, D. Pope, and N.G. Bruce. 2014. "Enablers and barriers to large-scale uptake of improved solid fuel stoves: a systematic review." Environmental Health Perspective 122:120–130.

Rosenbaum, J., Derby, E., & Dutta, K. (2015). Understanding consumer preference and willingness to pay for improved cookstoves in Bangladesh. Journal of Health Communication, 20(sup1), 20-27.

Sehgal, M., Rizwan, S. A., & Krishnan, A. (2014). Disease burden due to biomass cooking-fuel-related household air pollution among women in India. Global Health Action, 7(1), 25326.

Shankar, A. V., Onyura, M., & Alderman, J. (2015). Agency-based empowerment training enhances sales capacity of female energy entrepreneurs in Kenya. Journal of Health Communication, 20(sup1), 67-75.

Troncoso, K., Castillo, A., Masera, O., & Merino, L. (2007). Social perceptions about a technological innovation for fuelwood cooking: Case study in rural Mexico. Energy Policy, 35(5), 2799-2810.

Yu, Fei. (2011). Indoor Air Pollution and Children’s Health: Net Benefits from Stove and Behavioral Interventions in Rural China. Environmental and Resource Economics: 1-20.




How to Cite

Wang, J. (2021). Why Clean Cooking Programs Fail Among Rural Women? A Female User-Centered View from Uttar Pradesh, India. Proceedings of the World Conference on Women’s Studies, 6(01), 57–75. https://doi.org/10.17501/24246743.2021.6105