WASHplus Participates in Panel on Behavior Change to Facilitate Clean Cooking

On Tuesday April 21, the USAID Translating Research into Action Project (TRAction) held a panel discussion at the National Press Club in Washington, DC to discuss behavior change strategies for clean cooking. The event highlighted lessons from a recently published special issue of the Journal of Health Communication, Advancing Communication and Behavior Change Strategies for Cleaner Cooking.

Household air pollution (HAP), caused by the indoor burning of wood, crop residue, and other solid fuels, causes millions of premature deaths every year. Correct and consistent use of clean cooking technologies and fuels can reduce household air pollution, but adoption requires significant changes to existing cooking behaviors. The special issue of the Journal of Health Communication presents findings on methods to promote the adoption of clean cooking technologies and fuels, and aims to advance our understanding of behavior change related to technology, the enabling environment, and demand creation.

Julia Rosenbaum, USAID/WASHplus Project Deputy Director, and Elisa Derby, the WASHplus Indoor Air Pollution Specialist, co-authored an article in the Journal of Health Communication titled “Behavior Change Communication: A Key Ingredient for Advancing Clean Cooking.” On April 21, Julia joined several guess editors and authors of the special issue to discuss lessons learned and next steps for behavior change in the clean cooking sector. This panel discussion on “Behavior Change for Clean Cooking: Current Knowledge and Next Steps” featured Jay Graham from George Washington University, Sumi Mehta from the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, Nigel Bruce from the University of Liverpool, Anita Shankar from Johns Hopkins University, and Jessica Lewis from Duke University.

During her presentation, Julia emphasized that behavior change is possible by showing examples from the water and sanitation, HIV, and nutrition sectors. She highlighted the need for comprehensive strategies including but not limited to, communication tactics, researching a range of actors on the values chain, and systematically understanding what motivates a particular target group to perform a behavior. One cross cutting approach to changing clean cooking behaviors is to identify small doable actions that are feasible and can have a significant health impact.

View a recording of an interview with Julia below. See her presentation: “Behavior Change Approaches to Facilitate Clean Cooking and Reduced Household Air Pollution” (download presentation slides).

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