Process of Planning Cookstove Interventions

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Cooking Energy System | Basics | Policy Advice | Planning | Designing and Implementing ICS Supply | Designing and Implementing Woodfuel Supply | Climate Change | Extra

Major Components of a Planning Process

Planning can be done in many different ways and at various levels of detail. This section shows process steps which have proven to be useful for GIZ as a public sector actor. Focus is on cookstoves.

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Fig: Major components of process planning (GIZ 2011)

Planning must be based on good knowledge of the playing field. In the preparation process, a framework for the assessment of the cooking energy sector should be developed (scoping). The outcome of the scoping delivers the terms of references for the inception study, which fills the gaps of our knowledge of the cooking energy sector. The involvement of the government development partner as well as other important stakeholders of the cooking energy sector starts already in the scoping process. The inception workshop is there to form “unity of purpose” concerning the new intervention which shall be planned for.

Agreements should be established on issues such as:

  • the current situation of the cooking energy sector
  • the mandate and the target of the intervention
  • the way this target could be achieved
  • main intervention area (region, technology) and target groups
  • modes of cooperation

The inception workshop provides the base and mandate for the detailed planning of the intervention. This is the step where activities are identified, timed, quantified and the required resources (human, financial, time) are allocated. Indicators are formulated to allow a monitoring of the implementation and the impacts of the intervention.


In order to generate an overview on the cooking energy sector, inception or baseline studies are often commissioned in order to deliver a situation analysis which can be used in the inception workshop. However, it can be useful to first engage in a “scoping” process for the preparation of the inception study.


“Scoping” is done to deliver the framework for the inception study, not the results as such.

The aim of the scoping is to create an overview of...:

  • … the multiple dimensions of the cooking energy sector in a particular country or location;
  • … the available information and the information gaps which needs to be filled in preparation of the planning process.
  • … the perception of the current cooking energy situation by relevant stakeholders;
  • … the expectations of relevant stakeholders towards possible future interventions (“areas to be looked into”);

Beyond the preparation of the baseline study, scoping is done to involve important stakeholders at a very early stage of the planning process as an introduction towards a participatory planning process. Particular in respect to the national partner, it is important to create ownership through the involvement in the scoping process and the joint verification and release of the scoping outcome.

Useful activities for scoping the cooking energy sector are:

  • Search for and assessment of studies and reports available related to the cooking energy sector;
  • Identification of important stakeholders (stakeholder landscape);
  • SWOT analyses of the cooking energy sector by a group of stakeholders;
  • Interviews with key stakeholders of the cooking energy sector;
  • Field visit for reference observations related to key information of the literature review and stakeholder interviews.

The result of the scoping process is still open for changes and additions that may be necessary in the inception (or baseline) study.

Inception Study

Inception studies can – and should be - more than “just another study”.

The inception study contributes to the designing and implementing of cooking energy interventions as follows:

  • The planning is based on relevant, adequate and accurate information.
  • The inception study provides an overview on the frame conditions in which the promotion of cooking energy opportunities can be implemented.
  • The inception study promotes the learning from past and current efforts.
  • The inception process allows early interaction with partners, intermediaries and target groups to create a joint perception of the past efforts, the current situation and the requirements for the future. It is an important preparatory step towards joint planning.
  • The inception study can be the first baseline for the assessment of the progress.
  • The inception study provides a base for the selection of partners for the implementation.

How should the inception study be done?

There is no exclusive methodology for the inception study. Based on GIZ’s experiences, the following aspects seem – though rather self understanding - to be important:

  • The baseline can be analyzed through one comprehensive inception study or a series of specific inception studies designed to fill specific information gaps identified in the scoping process. If it is one comprehensive inception study, there is need for a multi-disciplinary team to provide sufficient diversity of technical capacity to encompass the whole picture. Sometimes there is a split between the inception study of the biomass energy supply side opportunities and the inception study for ICS opportunities;
  • Cooking energy concerns usually both sexes, but in different ways (e.g. women are collecting the wood and do the cooking, while men monopolize the money and would have to pay for an improved cook stove). Hence also the team should be gender balanced.
  • The inception study starts where the available reports are leaving some important gaps. However, while it is important to avoid duplication, it is also necessary to verify the validity of core information from these reports through other sources (interviews, field visits, national statistics etc.). This holds true also for the validity of opinions expressed in the capital of a country – the situation on the ground might look rather different at times
  • The inception study should consider the dimensions of availability, accessibility, vulnerability and suitability:
    • Availability: Are there improved cookstove types available? Which options for local production exist?
    • Accessibility: To what extent have target group members access to energy-efficient stoves?
    • Vulnerability: Which threats/risks exist towards the identified access to the technology, and to what extent do the target group members have adequate coping mechanisms?
    • Suitability: Even if cooking energy technologies are available, accessible and have a low vulnerability, they might not be accepted by the target group if they are perceived as not suitable.

The baseline study considers also the:

Cooking energy is often discussed from an environmental or health perspective. In order to prepare for the planning of sustainable solutions, it is very important to also consider the economic dimension of the cooking energy situation (market forces, purchase power of target groups, subsidies for different cooking energies…);

Cooking energy does not stand in isolation to other human needs and activities. It is important to consider competing uses of wood and wood production resources (e.g. agriculture, timber industry) and the actors of other related development goals (mainstreaming options). The large scale private sector (e.g. agro-industries) can play a vital role in the promotion of cooking energy (supply and demand side) and should be considered in the study.

Useful activities for an inception study are…

… to further elaborate the literature review, particularly where the scoping identified some information gaps;

… to further explore the current situation and past experiences on cooking energy in selected areas through observations and interviews on field visits (households, markets etc.). These visits include observations, group discussions, interviews with households, artisans, distributer and experts etc.;

to further investigate the perception of the target groups towards technical options:

  • "beauty competition on improved stoves": presenting a women group a number of ICS (known and unknown to them) and let them debate about advantages and disadvantages of stoves (the important thing is not their final ranking, but to register all the arguments they exchange and the priorities they do express)
  • test-sales of ICS: the beauty competition could continue with a "test-sale" where women should estimate what a stove would be worth or how much they would be willing to pay for. Then the real price can be revealed: is it higher or cheaper than estimated? Are participants prepared to pay? This could also be combined with the offer to leave the stove there for a 2 weeks testing before the stove needs to either be returned or paid for.

… to provide information for possible opportunities on cooking energy through examples from other related areas;

… to further increase the knowledge on the track record, current portfolio, plans and ambitions of important stakeholders of the cooking energy sector in preparation of the stakeholder selection (e.g. through interviews);

… to present the inception study at the planning workshop for a critical discussion with core stakeholders.

Inception Workshop

At the inception workshop, the result of the inception study is presented to a wider audience of actors of the cooking energy sector. The first priority is to generate a common understanding of the situation of the sector.

The target and mandate of the intervention should be explained and clarified in order to prepare the ground for discussing the way how the objectives of the intervention can be achieved.

Once the baseline situation is clarified and the target has been agreed upon, it is important to reflect ideas on how the current situation can be changed towards the anticipated scenario. This concerns the target groups, the technologies as well as the region in which the intervention could be operating. Within GIZ, the concept of a “result chain” has been developed to analyze and illustrate how the planned activities result into outputs which are used and result into benefits which contribute to a wider development goal.

A critical issue is often how the intervention is operated. There is a wide range of options between completely “hands on” to “fully hands” off approaches.

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Fig: Different modes of delivery (GIZ 2011)

The selection of the mode of delivery is always circumstantial. Sometimes even within one intervention, there are some components which are better to do hands off and others which should be done hands on. Between start and end of an intervention, there is often also a transition from hands on to hands off approaches in order to prepare an exit strategy of the project without undermining the sustainability of the change process.

Detailed Planning

Activity planning and budgeting etc. cannot be done in a large group. It is therefore better to do this step after the end of the inception workshop in a small group of experts.

A good approach for the planning of activities for the promotion of improved cook stoves is the application of the value chain concept.

The value chain for ICS interventions:

The production of improved cooking stoves is part of an overarching value chain which starts with the access to the required inputs (e.g. materials, tools, knowledge) and comprises all the steps including the distribution, sale and utilisation of the stoves. See also marketing of stoves.

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Fig: Value chain for improved cookstoves (GIZ 2011)

There is no benefit in training future producers on stove production, if…

  • They cannot access the inputs
  • They have no access to markets
  • If the product does not sell
  • If the product is not used

On each of these steps in the value chain, the need for activities should be assessed on the micro, meso and macro level:

  • Macro level: e.g. Governments, international companies, donors…
  • Meso level: e.g. service providers, research stations, transportation systems…
  • Micro level: e.g. suppliers, producers, traders, users

For each of the levels, it is worthwhile to identify the relevant actors, important influencing factors, opportunities, and threats etc., which can or will take influence on the building-up of a commercial supply-demand system for ICS. Accordingly, activities can be planned to support the production and dissemination of improved cook stoves.


Production Distribution





-> Experiences on the marketing of GIZ Household Energy Interventions were analysed based on this approach.

The value chain approach can be used not only for the supply of improved cookstoves (ICS), but also to analyze the fuel supply chain as the base for the planning of activities.

Once the necessary activities are identified, the required resources (human resources, materials, and time) as well as the milestones to measure their fulfillment should be determined.

In a last step of the planning, these requirements have to be budgeted in the financial planning.


This article was originally published by GIZ HERA. It is basically based on experiences, lessons learned and information gathered by GIZ cook stove projects. You can find more information about the authors and experts of the original “Cooking Energy Compendium” in the Imprint.

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