Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 calls for the adoption and continued use of clean-burning stoves by the 2.6 billion people relying on solid, smoky fuels. Universal access to clean cooking fuel would help prevent up to 2.3 million annual untimely deaths that are attributed to household air pollution (HAP) —a toll that disproportionately affects women and children—and reduce carbon emissions. However, to date, the clean cooking literature has found low rates of efficient stove adoption. Barriers include: affordability (initial stove and recurring fuel costs), unreliable supply, social acceptability, household education levels, household socio-economic and demographic characteristics, and low total perceived benefits. In Tanzania, the Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority is promoting Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG), but only 4.4% of the population is using LPG, and even fewer are using it consistently. To meet SDG7, the global community must act quickly to overcome barriers to LPG adoption and sustained use.
In 2018, Gill-Wiehl piloted the use of a locally-trained Community Technology Worker (CTW) to support and encourage behavior change to switch from dirty fuels to LPG in rural Tanzania. That pilot resulted in high rates of LPG adoption (~80%); however, liquidity constraints remained a major barrier to regular refilling. The households in the pilot expressed a desire and need for a place to save for their monthly refill. Additionally, affordability issues and gender norms lead to a few-day gap between clean fuel refills, and thus further unclean fuel use. Microcredit is the most commonly cited instrument to address issues of affordability; however, repaying is often burdensome, especially for women, who need a safe place to save, but do not necessarily need to borrow. To address affordability concerns, the literature has focused mainly on the upfront cost of the LPG stove, not on saving for the recurring fuel costs or reducing the refill gap. The challenge to refill a clean stove (on time) is an opportunity to promote small savings and to increase consistent use. This research asks: How does a microsaving option for the refill fuel cost coupled with local outreach affect LPG adoption? This question addresses the key gap between purchasing an LPG stove (with or without credit) and purchasing the refills that enable regular LPG use.
We propose to conduct a year long step-wedge randomized control trial (SW-RCT) in order to evaluate, understand, and compare rates of adoption of LPG of households with the CTW model before and after enrollment in a savings bank. We will combine quantitative and qualitative methods to analyze (i) the adoption, consistent use, and refilling patterns of households before and after their participation in a savings bank and (ii) behavioral aspects at the individual, communal, and market level that affect LPG adoption. The successful completion of this research will result in the Intent to Treat (ITT) Effects and the observed treatment effects of the savings bank on stove adoption metrics described in detail below, and the revelation of qualitative behaviors and themes that drive LPG adoption.