Sustainability Assessment of Improved Household Cookstove Dissemination

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Sustainability Assessment of Improved Cookstove Dissemination

The Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development '(OECD-DAC)' defines sustainability as:

  1. the continuation of benefits from a development intervention after major assistance has been completed
  2. the probability of continued long term benefits
  3. the resilience to risks of the net benefit flows over time.”

Thus, a development project would be considered sustainable if its achievements continue in the long term. It needs to generate measurable impact and outcomes even after all external support has ended. An ongoing project’s sustainability can only be estimated by approximating the project’s long-term impacts.

Since the late seventies, stove projects have been carried out all over the world. Experiences on dissemination and promotion of improved cooking stoves are numerous. Many of these projects and experiences have been evaluated by implementing agencies or by donors. One comprehensive evaluation of successes and failures was carried out by the World Bank in 1994.

Over the last 30 years, GIZ has gained a lot of experiences in supporting the dissemination of efficient stoves. Based on its own lessons learnt and with reference to the World Bank review, GIZ’s programme on Poverty-oriented Basic Energy Services (HERA) has now developed a detailed list with indicators for assessing sustainability.

GIZ HERA differentiates between two sustainability categories:
1. Sustainability criteria, which assess whether the changes induced by the project are sustainable or not; and
2. Sustainability factors, which influence the probability of achieving sustainable results.

Sustainability Criteria

Four elements are used as measurable sustainability criteria for improved cookstove programs:

  • penetration rate
  • usage rate
  • maintenance rate
  • replacement rate

Sustainability Criteria for Improved Stove Dissimination


What to measure?

Penetration rate

The higher the penetration of ICS amongst the target group, the more sustainable is the achievement (self-sustaining market; motivation through example by others)

Penetration rate:

[(ICS owners x 100) / (total sample size)]

Usage rate

Experience shows that some housholds acquire an ICS for other reasons than its usage. Hence the ICS ownership alone is not a relibale indicator for the sustainability of the behavioural change. The higher the usae of the ICS, the more accepted is the technology by the users; hence a more durable change of behaviour is achieved.

Usage rate:

[(ICS users x 100) / (ICS owners)]

Condition rate

If damaged stoves are mostly well maintained, it shows appreciation by the users and a preparedness to invest resources into the preservation of the ICS. Since a maintenance rate is very hard to measure, the more objective criterion of technical conditions is used.

Condition rate:

[(stoves in use and fulfilling criteria of ICS) / (total stoves in use)]

Replacement rate

If an ICS is damaged beyond repairs, the household is exposed to the ultimate sustainability test: going back to the baseline stove or replacing the old ICS with a new one.

Replacement rate:

[(ICS replacement households x 100) / (households with replacement decision)]

The importance of building up markets for improved cooking stoves (ICS) is one of the lessons learnt during the last decade. However, not only are the production and sale of a big number of improved stoves important for a sustainable stove market but also the stoves’ usage and, ultimately, their replacement when broken.

Sustainability Factors

Many factors may positively or negatively influence the penetration, usage, maintenance, and replacement rates of improved stoves. GIZ HERA differentiates between four different categories of factors. These are:

  • Sustainability Factors for the Supply Side
  • Sustainability Factors for Demand Side
  • Sustainability Factors for Stove Adoption
  • Sustainability Factors for Policy and Market Environment

However, it is difficult to determine the relevance and influence of each factor. Depending on the context of the project and the approaches used, these factors can play very different roles. Therefore, the weight given to each factor must be carefully thought out.

This framework for sustainability assessment refers mainly to local artisanal or semi-industrial stove production. Many of the factors might also apply for imported stoves. However, the import of products raises further questions that are not fully considered here, as GIZ’s focus has been on supporting the development and promotion of local production and demand.

Sustainability Factors and Criteria.jpg

Further Information


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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