WASHplus Weeklies

WASHplus Weekly: The WASHplus Weekly highlights latest research and resources on topics such as Water, Sanitation, Hygiene, Household Air Pollution, Clean Cooking, Innovation, Nutrition, Food Safety, WASH in Schools, WASH Integration, and more.


Issue 224 July 8, 2016 Focus on WASHplus Project Publications
Issue 223 May 25, 2016 Focus on Menstrual Hygiene

Issue 222 April 5 2016 Focus on the State of Handwashing
Issue 221 March 21 2016 Focus on Water Quality, Supply, and Livelihoods

Issue 220 March 4 2016 Focus on WASH and Nutrition
Issue 219 Feb. 19 2016 Focus on Sustainability, Accountability, and Governance
Issue 218 Feb. 5 2016 Focus on Behavior Change and WASH
Issue 217 Jan. 22 2016 Q&A on Investments in Cookstoves with Jörg Peters, RWI
Issue 216 Jan. 8 2016 Q&A with Adam Creighton


Issue 215 Dec. 18 2015 Focus on Water Quality
Issue 215 Dec. 7 2015 Focus on WASH in Schools
Issue 213 Nov. 6 2015 World Pneumonia Day 2015
Issue 212 Oct. 30 2015 Focus on Enabling Environments
Issue 211 Oct. 23 2015 Lessons Learned in Sanitation
Issue 209 Oct. 9 2015 Focus on Global Handwashing Day 2015
Issue 208 Sept. 25 2015 Focus on Water & Agriculture
Issue 207 Sept. 18 2015 Focus on Handwashing Research
Issue 206 Sept. 11 2015 Focus on Cookstoves for Displaced Populations
Issue 205 Sept. 4 2015 Focus on Neglected Tropical Diseases
Issue 204 August 28 2015 Focus on WASH & Innovation
Issue 203 August 21 2015 Focus on World Water Week 2015
Issue 202 August 14 2015 Focus on Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS)
Issue 201 August 7 2015 Focus on Animal Waste Management
Issue 200 July 31 2015 Focus on Wearables for WASH & Health
Issue 199 July 17 2015 Focus on WASH & Financing
Issue 198 July 10 2015 Focus on Waste Pickers
Issue 197 July 2 2015 Focus on WASH & Nutrition
Issue 196 June 26 2015 Management of Infant and Child Feces
Issue 195 June 19 2015 Role of Women in Clean Cooking
Issue 194 June 5 2015 WASH & HAP & Child Health
Issue 193 May 28 2015 Menstrual Hygiene Management
Issue 191 May 15 2015 Focus on WASH & Pastoralism
Issue 190 May 8 2015 Focus on Hygiene
Issue 189 May 1 2015 Focus on Desalination
Issue 188 April 24 2015 Behavior Change in the Clean Cooking Sector
Issue 187 April 17 2015 WASH and Enabling Environments
Issue 186 April 10 2015 WASH in Non-Household Settings, including Schools
Issue 185 April 3 2015 Focus on World Health Day 2015 – Food Safety
Issue 184 March 27 2015 Focus on Water Safety Plans (WSP)
Issue 183 March 20 2015 Focus on Microfinance
Issue 182 March 13 2015 Focus on Urban Wastewater
Issue 181 March 6 2015 Community-Led Total Sanitation
Issue 180 Feb 27 2015 Water Quality
Issue 179 Feb 20 2015 Focus on WASH & Nutrition
Issue 178 Feb 13 2015 Focus on Barriers to Improved Cookstove Adoption
Issue 177 Feb 6 2015 Focus on Rainwater Harvesting (RWH)
Issue 176 Jan 30 2015 Focus on Fecal Sludge Management (FSM)
Issue 175 Jan 23 2015 Focus on WASH & Zoonotic Diseases
Issue 174 Jan 16 2015 Focus on Handwashing Research
Issue 173 Jan 9 2015 Focus on Multiple-Use Water Services


Issue 172 Dec 19 2014 Focus on Clean Cookstoves
Issue 171 Dec 12 2014 Focus on WASH & Nutrition
Issue 170 Dec 5 2014 Focus on WASH & Climate Change
Issue 169 Nov 26 2014 Focus on Monitoring, Evaluation, Resolution, and Learning (MERL)
Issue 169 Nov 14 2014 Focus on World Toilet Day 2014
Issue 168 Nov 7 2014 Focus on WASH in Public Facilities
Issue 167 Oct 31 2014 Focus on WASH and Ebola
Issue 166 Oct 24 2014 Focus on Clean Cookstoves
Issue 165 Oct 10 2014 Focus on Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS)
Issue 164 Oct 3 2014 World Habitat Day – Focus on Slums
Issue 163 Sept 26 2014 Focus on Sanitation as a Business
Issue 162 Sept 19 2014 Focus on WASH & Human Rights
Issue 161 Sept 12 2014 Focus on Rural Water Supply
Issue 160 Sept 5 2014 Focus on WASH & Nutrition
Issue 159 August 29 2014 Focus on Cookstoves Monitoring & Testing
Issue 158 August 22 2014 Focus on WASH and Monitoring
Issue 157 August 8 2014 Focus on Disease Outbreaks
Issue 156 August 1 2014 Focus on Hand Washing
Issue 155 July 25 2014 Focus on Clean Cooking in Nepal
Issue 154 July 18 2014 Focus on Gaming Applications for WASH
Issue 153 July 11 2014 Focus on Fecal Sludge Management
Issue 152 July 3 2014 Focus on WASH and Nutrition
Issue 151 June 27 2014 Focus on Violence and Gender in the WASH and
Issue 150 June 20 2014 Focus on Gender Mainstreaming and Clean Cookstoves
Issue 149 June 6 2014 Focus on Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS)
Issue 148 May 30 2014 Focus on the Future of Water
Issue 147 May 23 2014 Focus on Menstrual Hygiene Day
Issue 146 May 16 2014 Focus on Clean Cookstoves and Behavior Change
Issue 145 May 9 2014 Focus on Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
Issue 144 May 2 2014 Focus on Sanitation
Issue 143 April 25 2014 Focus on WASH and Nutrition=
Issue 142 April 18 2014 Focus on Sanitation and Water for All
Issue 141 April 11 2014 Focus on WASH and Maternal Health
Issue 140 April 4 2014 Focus on Child Feces Disposal
Issue 139 March 28 2014 Global Burden of Disease from Household Air Pollution
Issue 138 March 21 2014 Focus on World Water Day 2014
Issue 137 March 7 2014 Focus on Multiple-Use Water Services
Issue 136 February 28 2014 Focus on Learning from Failure
Issue 135 February 21 2014 Focus on WASH-Related Diseases
Issue 134 February 14 2014 Focus on WASH and Small Towns
Issue 133 February 7 2014 Focus on WASH and Design Thinking
Issue 132 January 31 2014 Focus on Handwashing
Issue 131 January 24 2014 Focus on WASH and Nutrition
Issue 130 January 17 2014 Focus on Sanitation Marketing
Issue 129 January 10 2014 Focus on Carbon Finance for Cookstoves
Issue 128 January 3 2014 Focus on Microfinance


Issue 127 December 20 2013 Focus on Inclusive WASH
Issue 126 December 13 2013 Focus on Community-Led Total Sanitation
Issue 125 December 6 2013 Focus on ICS Adoption in Bangladesh
Issue 124 November 22 2013 Household Water Treatment & Safe Storage
Issue 123 November 15 2013 Focus on World Toilet Day 2013
Issue 122 November 8 2013 Focus on Self Supply
Issue 121 November 1 2013 Focus on the Health Impacts of WASH Interventions
Issue 120 October 11 2013 Focus on Hand Washing
Issue 119 October 4 2013 Focus on Cookstoves and Consumers
Issue 118 September 27 2013 Focus on Management of Health Care Waste
Issue 117 September 20 2013 Focus on WASH and Nutrition
Issue 116 September 13 2013 Focus on Rural Water Supply
Issue 115 September 6 2013 Focus on Monitoring & Evaluation of Cookstoves
Issue 114 August 30 2013 Focus on Water Cooperation
Issue 113 August 23 2013 Focus on WASH and Emergencies
Issue 112 August 16 2013 Focus on Sanitation Marketing
Issue 111 August 9 2013 Cholera Prevention and Control
Issue 110 August 2 2013 Household Energy and Climate Change
Issue 109 July 26 2013 Focus on Rural Water Supply and Sanitation
Issue 108 July 19 2013 Focus on Food Hygiene

Issue 107 July 12 2013 Focus on Menstrual Hygiene Management, 2nd Edition
Issue 106 July 3 2013 Focus on Behavior Change

Issue 105 June 28 2013 Focus on Sanitation for Preschool-Age Children
Issue 104 June 7 2013 Focus on Microfinance for Sanitation
Issue 103 May 31 2013 Focus on Cookstove Fuels
Issue 102 May 24 2013 Focus on WASH-Related Diseases
Issue 101 May 17 2013 Focus on Rainwater Harvesting
Issue 100 May 10 2013 Focus on Community-Led Total Sanitation
Issue 99 May 3 2013 Focus on Water and Food Security
Issue 98 April 26 2013 Cookstoves and the Environment
Issue 97 April 19 2013 A Hand Washing Update
Issue 96 April 12 2013 Focus on Financing WASH Services
Issue 95 April 5 2013 Focus on Urban Sanitation
Issue 94 March 29 2013 Focus on Health Impacts of Household Air Pollution
Issue 93 March 21 2013 Focus on World Water Day 2013
Issue 92 March 15 2013 Focus on WASH Sustainability
Issue 91 March 8 2013 Focus on Gender Issues
Issue 90 February 22 2013 Focus on Sanitation Marketing
Issue 89 February 15 2013 Focus on Household Water Treatment & Safe Storage (HWTS)

Issue 88 February 8 2013 Focus on Neglected Tropical Diseases
Issue 87 February 1 2013 Focus on Cookstove Stacking
Issue 86 January 25 2013 Focus on WASH and Maternal Health
Issue 85 January 18 2013 Focus on Post-2015 MDG Goals, Targets and Indicators
Issue 84 January 11 2013 Focus on WASH and Environmental Conservation


Issue 83 December 21 2012 Focus on HAP and the Global Burden of Disease
Issue 82 December 14 2012 Focus on Community-Led Total Sanitation
Issue 81 December 7 2012 Focus on Water Kiosks
Issue 80 November 30 2012 Focus on Fecal Sludge Management
Issue 79 November 16 2012 Focus on World Toilet Day 2012
Issue 78 November 9 2012 Focus on World Pneumonia Day 2012
Issue 77 November 2 2012 Focus on Water Conflicts
Issue 76 October 26 2012 Focus on Climate Change
Issue 75 October 19 2012 Focus on Waste Pickers
Issue 74 October 12 2012 Global Handwashing Day
Issue 73 October 5 2012 Focus on Water Technologies
Issue 72 September 28 2012 Focus on Entrepreneurship in WASH and Household Energy
Issue 71 September 14 2012 Focus on Household Water Treatment & Safe Storage
Issue 70 September 7 2012 Focus on WASH and Child Survival
Issue 69 August 31 2012 Focus on Biogas for Cookstoves
Issue 68 August 24 2012 Focus on Multiple-Use Water Services
Issue 67 August 17 2012 Focus on Water and Food Security
Issue 66 August 10 2012 Focus on Cholera Prevention and Control
Issue 65 August 3 2012 Focus on Menstrual Hygiene Management
Issue 64 July 27 2012 Focus on Marketing Cookstoves
Issue 63 July 20 2012 Focus on HIV AIDS and WASH
Issue 62 July 13 2012 Focus on Soil-Transmitted Helminth Infections
Issue 61 July 6 2012 Focus on Community-Led Total Sanitation
Issue 60 June 29 2012 Focus on WASH in Emergencies
Issue 59 June 8 2012 Focus on Public-Private Partnerships
Issue 58 June 1 2012 Focus on WASH-Related Diseases
Issue 57 May 25 2012 Focus on the Integration of WASH and the Prevention of IAP
Issue 56 May 18 2012 Focus on Water Security

Issue 55 May 11 2012 An Update on Sludge Management
Issue 54 May 4 2012 Focus on Self Supply
Issue 53 April 27 2012 Focus on Cookstove Adoption
Issue 52 April 20 2012 Focus on Small-Scale WASH Service Providers
Issue 51 April 13 2012 A Hygiene Behavior Update
Issue 50 April 6 2012 Focus on the Informal Sector and Solid Waste Management
Issue 49 March 30 2012 Focus on Nanotechnology
Issue 48 March 23 2012 Focus on Urban Health
Issue 46 March 8 2012 Gender Considerations for WASH and IAP
Issue 45 March 2 2012 A Focus on Multiple-Use Water Services (MUS)
Issue 44 February 24 2012 A Focus on Adoption of WASH and IAP Interventions
Issue 43 February 17 2012 A Focus on Ecological Sanitation
Issue 42 February 10 2012 WASH and Neglected Tropical Diseases
Issue 41 February 3 2012 Year in Review, Household Water Treatment & Safe Storage
Issue 40 January 27 2012 Health Impacts of WASH and IAP Interventions from 2011
Issue 39 January 20 2012 Year in Review – 10 Key Studies on CLTS from 2011
Issue 37 January 6 2012 Focus on WASH and IAP Technologies


Issue 36 December 16 2011 Focus on Financing Examples for WASH and IAP Interventions
Issue 35 December 9 2011 Focus on Water Safety Plans
Issue 34 December 2 2011 Focus on Rainwater Harvesting
Issue 33 November 18 2011 Focus on World Toilet Day and Communal Sanitation
Issue 32 November 11 2011 Focus on the Prevention of Pneumonia

Issue 31 November 4 2011 Focus on Water Point Mapping
Issue 30 October 28 2011 Focus on Menstrual Hygiene Management

Issue 29 October 21 2011 Focus on Carrying Water
Issue 28 October 14 2011 Focus on WASH and Climate Change
Issue 27 October 7 2011 Focus on Hand Washing
Issue 26 September 30 2011 Focus on WASH and Humanitarian Assistance
Issue 25 September 23 2011 Focus on Sanitation Marketing
Issue 24 September 9 2011 Focus on Reuse in Sanitation
Issue 23 September 2 2011 Focus on WASH for the Disabled
Issue 21 August 19 2011 Focus on Sludge Management
Issue 20 August 12 2011 Focus on Cholera Prevention and Control
Issue 19 August 5 2011 Focus on Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)
Issue 18 July 29 2011 Focus on Prevention and Treatment of Diarrhea
Issue 17 July 22 2011 Focus on Drinking Water Quality
Issue 16 July 15 2011 Focus on HIV AIDS and WASH
Issue 15 July 8 2011 Focus on Marketing Approaches
Issue 14 July 1 2011 Focus on Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage
Issue 13 June 24 2011 Focus on Hygiene Behavior
Issue 12 June 17 2011 Focus on Mobile Technologies
Issue 11 June 10 2011 Focus on Monitoring and Evaluation
Issue 11 June 3 2011 Focus on the Health Impacts of WASH Interventions
Issue 9 May 27 2011 Focus on Financing
Issue 8 May 20 2011 Focus on WASH and Urban Issues
Issue 8 May 13 2011 Focus on Community-Led Total Sanitation

Issue 7 May 6 2011 Focus on Gender & WASH
Issue 6 April 29 2011 Focus on the Integration of IAQ WASH and Schools
Issue 5 April 22, 2011 Focus on the Integration of WASH and IAQ
Issue 4 April 15, 2011 Focus on Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage
Issue 3 April 8, 2011 Focus on Handwashing
Issue 2 April 1 2011 Focus on Sanitation

Issue 1 March 1 2011 Welcome to Washplus Updates

WASHplus Year Five Annual Report, October 2015

WASHplus Year 5 Annual Report.png

In its Year Five Annual Report, WASHplus has stories to tell, results to share, events to celebrate, and studies that add to the evidence base. WASHplus activities serve as the backdrop for many stories: the Zambian school girl who has access to privacy and menstrual supplies when she needs them, the Malian household that can now build an improved latrine on their rocky soil, the mother in Bangladesh who understands the importance of a feces-free environment, the Nepali home breathing cleaner air as it trials an improved cookstove. And perhaps more compelling than the individual stories are the results the project is beginning to record through endline data collection in Kenya and formative research on school enrollment and in Zambia. Providing water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) infrastructure to schools is having a notable impact on enrollment. Community-led total sanitation (CLTS) may be inoculating communities exposed to cholera. Numbers also tell the story of the project’s impact. Look for a snapshot of those figures throughout the report.

The conclusion of field activities in Uganda and Zambia this year provided opportunities to reflect, celebrate accomplishments through end-of-project (EOP) events, and share lessons learned. Several articles were published this year in peer-reviewed journals and others submitted on topics ranging from consumer preferences and willingness to pay for improved cookstoves to habit formation and costing of handwashing. WASHplus also played a key role in preparing the joint document on WASH and nutrition for publication and distribution.

WASHplus’s focus on integrating WASH into other development initiatives enabled the project to get in on the ground floor on subjects that are gaining traction at USAID and globally, such as WASH and nutrition, neglected tropical diseases, and MHM. This integration focus dovetailed nicely with the project’s mandate to serve a technical leadership role, and project staff had many opportunities this year to share its work and lessons from the field on a global stage, strategize with partners on important advocacy issues, inform policy, and develop guidance in multiple countries. Also toward that end, WASHplus launched its first two learning briefs on small doable actions and WASH and nutrition. This series details the variety of approaches WASHplus uses to improve WASH and household air pollution (HAP) across its portfolio of countries.

And finally, it’s been an exciting year for innovation with pilot projects underway in Ethiopia and Bangladesh focusing on sanitation marketing and sand envelopment. These two efforts will add to WASHplus’s body of knowledge on sanitation innovation and aligns closely with USAID’s global interest on the topic. WASHplus is also documenting its fecal sludge management work in Madagascar to tell the next chapter in that story.

Nepal: Clean Cookstove Demo

Nepal ICS demo

People view improved cookstoves at an outdoor marketplace. 

As part of its cookstove study in Nepal, WASHplus is conducting clean cookstove demonstrations in Tanahu and Kavre districts. The demonstrations include food preparation of daal and rice, two local staples, and have attracted a lot of people eager to learn more. The in-home trials of five different types of improved stoves started in 140 homes in Nawalparasi and Dang districts in June, and will be completed this month. Families are trialing only one of the five stoves but will have the opportunity to purchase any of the five at the end of the trial: Prakti Double Burner Wood Stove with Chimney, Eco-Chula XXL, Alternative Energy Promotion Center-promoted local chimney stove, Xunda Field Dragon, and the Greenway Jumbo. The willingness to pay assessment includes a lump sum payment option, as well as an installment plan offered through a local microfinance institution.

WASHplus Presents at Clean Cooking Forum, 2015

Julia Rosenbaum, the WASHplus Deputy Director, made a presentation at the Clean Cooking Forum organized by the Global Alliance Alliance for Clean Cookstoves in Lima, Peru. View her presentation here:

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).

WASHplus Launches Cookstove Testing in Nepal

WASHplus is undertaking a comprehensive assessment to better understand consumer needs and preferences as they relate to increasing the uptake of improved cookstoves (ICS) in Nepal, building on similar research conducted in Bangladesh. Using qualitative and quantitative methods, this study will draw from social marketing and social science to explore consumer perceptions of five promising ICS, potentially available for distribution in Nepal. The study incorporates two-month household trials of the improved stoves, semi-structured questionnaires, household stove and fuel usage monitoring (via iButton temperature sensing data loggers and kitchen performance tests), stove performance testing (via controlled cooking tests), and willingness to pay assessments. Study participants will participate in public demonstrations and discussions of all study stoves, and finally, stoves will be placed in a temporary “market stall” at an actual open marketplace, where reactions will be collected by interaction and discreet observation.

WASHplus, implemented by FHI 360, is conducting the assessment in partnership with Winrock International,  and the Alternative Energy Promotion Center (AEPC) in Nepal, with financial support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Regional Bureau for Asia and the Bureau for Global Health.

Q&A: What have we learned about consumer preferences of cookstoves in Bangladesh?

CROPPED-DerbyElisabethWASHplus Project’s Household Air Pollution Specialist Elisa Derby recently participated in an online Q&A session hosted and facilitated by The World Bank’s Clean Stove Initiative. The Q&A session focused on lessons learned about consumer preferences for improved cookstoves in Bangladesh, through the WASHplus project, and in Indonesia through the World Bank’s Indonesia Clean Stove Initiative. Key findings from the WASHplus consumer preferences study and related excerpts from the Q&A are provided below.

Key Findings: Understanding Consumer Preference and Willingness to Pay for Improved Cookstoves in Bangladesh


  • “Trials of Improved Practices” testing user reactions to one of five different improved cookstoves (ICS) in 120 households.
  • Three-day kitchen performance tests (KPT) in 116 study households and 24 control households.

Cooking Practices

  • A major obstacle was that the cooking time was slower using the ICS.
  • Households prefer to cook rice for the whole day all at once in the morning during the three-month winter, rather than throughout the day, as is customary during the rest of the year.

Cookstove Preferences

  • At least two stoves were perceived as preferable to traditional stoves during the trials.
  • None as then produced met all consumer needs, and none met sufficient consumer needs to completely replace traditional stoves.
  • A vast majority believed ICS produced less smoke than their traditional stoves.
  • Participants widely complained of the inability to cook large volumes of food in large pots.
  • The horizontal fuel entry of ICS was not desirable. 

Fuel Saving

  • Homes using four out of the five improved stoves were found to use at least 16 percent to 30 percent less fuel than the control homes over the course of the KPT. 

Willingness to Pay and Decision Making

  • Certain stove features were valued, but the monetary worth of the stove was dramatically undervalued (most estimated them to be 1/2 to 1/4 of their actual calculated value).
  • Householders realized that metal stoves are expensive, but they were not ready to buy them at market price.
  • When given the stove as a gift in one village, almost all participants chose to keep the stove over a market value cash buy-back.

To learn more about WASHplus’ consumer preference study, download the brief “What Do Cooks Want? What Will They Pay? A Study of Improved Cookstoves in Bangladesh” and the full report “Understanding Consumer Preference and Willingness to Pay for Improved Cookstoves in Bangladesh.”

Q&A with Elisa Derby: What have we learned about consumer preferences of cookstoves in Bangladesh?

Elisa Derby has worked in the cookstoves sector for over a decade and manages Winrock International’s household energy and health program, with projects and partnerships that reduce fuel use and exposure to cooking-related household air pollution. This work incorporates field-based capacity building, formative research, network building, knowledge dissemination, grants management, and direct implementation activities. She is the household energy and household air pollution specialist for the WASHplus project, and supports WASHplus consumer preferences, needs and willingness to pay research, and other activities designed to support the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves mission and goals.

Q: What do you think was the most unexpected result stemming from your study? And how do you think this finding will likely impact the market (stove manufacturers) and future development initiatives?

A: Our willingness to pay results were the most surprising result from the WASHplus study in Bangladesh. Only one out of 105 study participants given the option to purchase the stoves at market value did so, although of the remaining 15 households given the stoves as gifts and then offered the option of a cash buyout at that same market value, only three chose cash; the other 12 preferred to keep their stove. People valued the stoves when acquisition barriers were removed, indicating a need for better financing options.

Q: The WASHplus study adopted the Trials of Improved Practices (TIPs) methodology. What makes this innovative and could you please explain how this methodology works?

A: The USAID Mission in Bangladesh enlisted WASHplus to help it assess consumer preferences and identify types of stoves that would be a good fit for its cookstove promotion program, as a follow-on activity to a cookstove market assessment already undertaken. Because cooking is such a personal experience and so integral to daily life, there’s no better way to get feedback on a particular stove type than to ask potential consumers to bring the stove into their homes and assess it as they go about their daily routine over a period of weeks. TIPs is an established qualitative methodology in the WASH sector and invites participants to interact with researchers and identify, discuss, and resolve barriers to using the new technologies through semi-structured “elicitation” questions. We gave each household one of five imported ICS models to evaluate, and used both qualitative and quantitative methods to gather data. The latter included monitoring wood and stove usage via KPT and stove use monitoring sensors for both traditional and improved stoves, as well as household air pollution in a subset of homes. We ended the trials with two different perceived value and willingness to pay approaches.

Q: How do you select five imported ICS models?

A: We chose the stove models based on regional availability, performance, and characteristics. All models were produced in China or India; only the Grameen Greenway stove was currently available for purchase in Bangladesh at the time of the study, albeit in small quantities, but others had potential to be manufactured and/or assembled in Bangladesh. They all met a minimum of Tier 2 fuel efficiency according to ISO IWA 11:2012 guidelines (the Tier 0 traditional baseline in Bangladesh is a hand-built, sunken-hole mud stove). Stoves were selected by characteristics (chimney/not, fan/not, portable/not), not by brand, to represent a range of stove types. An added benefit of using imported stoves with which consumers were not familiar was the avoidance of any influence of brand loyalty. Several of the manufacturers have made modifications to their stoves in response to consumer feedback from our study, and are exploring or already pursuing expanding their markets into Bangladesh. 

Q: Is there room for adoption of dedicated devices that would be efficient for specific tasks such as  water boiling or rice cooking? In other words, could the future be towards several types of efficient task-focused devices rather than trying to go for the “mythical” do-it-all-cleanly-and-efficiently-while-customer-friendly stove?

A: As a follow-up activity to the consumer research, we’re now doing customer segmentation and market strategy work in Bangladesh and one recommendation from that research is bundling the improved cookstoves with products like electric rice cookers, as the combination would then be expensive enough to trigger microfinance options, and the products would complement each other nicely, as the rice cooking is the weak point of many of the improved stoves. This is of course only possible for homes that are electrified, one of several customer segments. In my own kitchen I have an oven, stovetop, microwave, toaster, and coffee maker, and have been thinking of investing in a slow-cooker; I’m clearly no believer in a mythical do-it-all technology! 

Q: Is water boiling a main task in Bangladesh? It is an interesting finding in Indonesia. Almost all households only drink boiled water (this a common practice in China, too).

A: Unfortunately (for other health considerations!) boiling water for drinking or bathing is not common practice in Bangladesh.

Q: Bundling products with complementary functions sounds good. But I wonder how many households will invest in such bundle. If bundling products is not targeting poor households, then the households who choose the bundle probably don’t need microfinancing either.

A: For better or worse, there are many segments of “poor” in Bangladesh, and the poorest of the poor don’t usually have electricity, so the rice cooker bundling is a moot point for them anyway. Fortunately, we won’t have to just speculate how/whether this will work, as the WASHplus research findings and market strategies are directly feeding into the USAID’s Catalyzing Clean Energy in Bangladesh program, so they’ll be able to report back to us how/whether this has worked in the next couple years.

Q: Was the finding regarding “unwillingness of customers to chop wood” reported to stove manufacturers/designers (e.g., the tech. people)? What is their reaction to this issue? This is major in my mind, as it goes directly towards adoption and actual use … because the trend in adoption overall is towards devices that make life easier and (possibly more pleasurable), not that do good only if you follow a certain set of rules. And there may be some unintended consequences on the social side of this increase need for chopped wood.

A: Yes, all of our findings were shared with manufacturers. Fuel processing is always an especially challenging factor. We know that we get the most complete combustion and therefore cleanest burn from fuel with high surface/mass ratios, but of course any user would rather just throw a big log in the fire, not have to chop up the fuel or continuously feed it. I know many in our sector have high hopes for a fuel processing service solution—wherein entrepreneurs can make a living processing wood, or selling processed wood to users who then get a cleaner burn. I wish I had the answer!

Q: Based on the study, what do you think is the biggest challenge/barrier in promoting ICS in countries like Bangladesh and Indonesia? Was the lesson learnt from your study applicable for other developing nations as well?

A: I think the biggest challenge in our sector, regardless of where cookstoves are promoted, is that we don’t have biomass solutions that both burn cleanly (read: meets WHO air quality guidelines) and that users like to use and prefer over their traditional stove 100% of the time. So we see a LOT of stove stacking, and the benefits of ICS are watered down at best and completely negated at worst. But it’s entirely rational—if you spend 5-7 hours/day cooking, of course you’d rather do it on the easy-to-use stove than the “allegedly better but annoying to actually use” option, even though the latter may provide health benefits down the road. Everyone loves cooking on LPG (and I posit in most cases would do so almost exclusively were it not for cost), and I firmly believe that universal clean fuel access should be our end goal, but we need many really good biomass solutions in the meantime that cooks will use consistently, correctly, and exclusively, and we’re just not there yet. I’m grateful for the R&D funding that’s been brought to the table in recent years to support that work.

Q: I would be interested in hearing from the Bangladesh experience about distribution channels that were used to reach users in remote areas, in particular women. For example, there is an organization called Solar Sisters that is operating in several African countries, which trains and hires women entrepreneurs from the community to market and sell stoves. It seems like an interesting approach. What good steps and strategies were used to reach the end user beyond broad marketing?

A: As the WASHplus Bangladesh activity was a research study involving imported ICS not currently available in Bangladesh, we did not rely on any distribution channels, rather we selected the 120 participant households and brought them the stoves ourselves. Previous ICS promotion supported by the Government of Bangladesh has relied primarily on sanitation shops and NGOs for distribution. I expect that the USAID Catalyzing Clean Energy in Bangladesh project (which will be the implementation follow-on to the WASHplus research) will expand their distribution networks, and the Solar Sisters model may be a good fit—I’ll pass on the suggestion!

Q: Could you please share some key lessons learnt from your project, or essential take-aways, especially on those topics that have not yet been discussed in the above thread? Anything that might be helpful for future project development and design, social marketing, awareness campaign is warmly welcomed.

A: Some important take-aways from our research in Bangladesh is the need for larger and higher fire-power stoves for Bangladesh, and given the prevalence of mixed fuel use we also recommended the development of a mixed-fuel stove. Happily, several of the manufacturers we worked with have come out with larger/higher fire-power versions of their stoves to better meet Bangladeshi needs. Prakti has received Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves funding specifically to develop a mixed-fuel stove for Bangladesh, which is already in prototype stage. Finally, I would say our findings underscore the need I think we all recognize for consumer-centered design, to really meet consumer needs while still achieving emissions reductions and efficiency goals.

The other take-away from our work in Bangladesh that we haven’t gotten into on this thread is the issue of quality control and durability. By way of background, Bangladesh has a long history of improved stove promotion over the decades, primarily focusing on variations of one type of artisanal clay (and more recently cement) chimney stove, generally called the Bondhu Chula, of which there are an estimated 500,000 still in use. We performed controlled cooking tests on both the imported and (expertly constructed) Bondhu Chula stoves, and they all demonstrated significant efficiency gains over the traditional stove. All of the chimney stoves were very successful in venting the smoke out of the kitchen. But in the field we saw a LOT of very smoky Bondhu Chulas. This is likely in part due to varying quality control prevalent with artisanal production. That said, even expertly constructed Bondhu Chulas depend on the user to keep the stove well-maintained.

The challenge with any chimney stove is that when not cleaned regularly, they can redirect all the smoke (maybe just as much as the traditional stove generates) back into the cooking area. In Bangladesh there isn’t a culture of chimney cleaning, and given that the Bondhu Chula has a cement chimney that must be cleaned from the top (unlike metal chimneys that you can clean just by banging on the side), and many homes have thatched roofs, this kind of cleaning can be next to impossible. So field testing for chimney stoves over time is really critical, especially in Bangladesh.

Report from Dan Sweeney on the ISO Clean Cooking Solutions Meeting in Guatemala

About the Author: Dan Sweeney is a D-Lab Biomass Fuel Research Scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  His blog post below was originally published on October 30, 2014 on the MIT D-Lab blog. Read about other events on D-Lab News.

D-Lab’s Dan Sweeney attends ISO Clean Cooking Solutions Meeting in Guatemala

Last week, I returned from a nine-day visit to Antigua, Guatemala. Working with D-Lab partner organization Soluciones Comunitarias (SolCom), I performed field tests on a couple of their improved, wood-fired cookstoves. And, I participated in a meeting of the working and task groups for the International Standards Organization (ISO) Technical Committee on Clean Cooking Solutions. For my blog about cookstove testing on this trip read here.

Dan Sweeney & Marta Rivera (Fundacion Solar) during an ISO Fuels task group meeting.

Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves connection

So you may be asking “how the heck did Dan get wrapped up in all of this?” Many of you may be familiar with the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (aka The Alliance, cleancookstoves.org), a public-private partnership at the UN Foundation, initiated by Hillary Clinton to bring awareness to the three billion people worldwide who use biomass to meet their household energy needs through advocacy, funding opportunities and other efforts to scale improved cooking technologies. The Harvest Fuel Initiative (HFI), which I focus most of my efforts on at D-Lab, is a member of the Alliance and over the past couple of months we have become a greater voice in Alliance conversations about cooking fuels which recognize improved fuels as a needed innovation in improved cooking (the Alliance recently hired a fuels technical expert, Seema Patel, who is one of my new best friends).

International Standards OrganizationTechnical Committee on Clean Cooking Solutions

The Alliance has also convened experts from various backgrounds and locations, ISO Technical Committee 285 (TC285), tasked with producing a globally recognized ISO standard for “Improved Cooking Solutions” – in short, a comprehensive, globally adopted guide for evaluating, rating, certifying and measuring impacts from cooking technology. The challenge is that cooking practices and technology are different everywhere and stakeholders have a wide variety of opinions about what is important when evaluating a cookstove- should tests be performed in a controlled-laboratory environment (like D-Lab’s stove lab), or should tests be performed in the field during actual use conditions? And what tests should be required by the standard so as to sufficiently measure important aspects of the technology (e.g. fuel efficiency, emissions, pollutant exposure, durability, safety) but not be prohibitively expensive for stove manufacturers who may not be able to afford an expensive lab or field test campaign.

These are a few of the issues, among many more that TC285 is trying to tackle through a consensus based process over the next couple of years. Last week’s meeting in Antigua marked the start of the nitty-gritty work. The four TC285 working groups (Conceptual Framework, Harmonized Laboratory Protocols, Field Testing, Social Impacts) and two task groups (Communications, Fuels) met during several sessions to hash out scopes, work plans, write tables of contents and delegate responsibilities.

Creating international standards

For me, it was a crash course in international standards, an opportunity to represent D-Lab’s fuels research and the partners that we work with in the field, and a chance to meet a lot of folks who have paved the way in improved cooking tech.

Creating standards is a lot of work, especially for a product that is so varied in type and use, in many locations, potentially by large numbers of people. Navigating to a consensus decision seems impossible, but attending this meeting gave me some hope for the process. Drafting sections, editing and revising will be a long, ongoing process for the next couple of years, but the people involved are very passionate about seeing it get done.

I was encouraged to be involved in the Fuels Task Group, assisting group convener Marcelo Gorritty (UMSA, Bolivia). The Fuels Task group will provide guidance to other working group’s on fuels related issues, and perform a review and gap analysis of existing relevant fuels standards. I am also a member of the Lab and Field Testing Working Groups.

Introducing the Harvest Fuel Initiative to the Group

Attendees were particularly interested in the unique approach that HFI is taking in engaging directly with producers to scale alternative fuels, and also with our capacity building and design summit work. For example, there was interest in applying some of D-Lab and HFI’s design methodologies to cooking technology, such as a design summit focused on improved cooking tech and working with refugee communities to produce clean fuels.

Tour: San Antonio Aguas Calientes, cookstove factory

During our last day, some of us spent a few hours visiting San Antonio Aguas Calientes where social entrepreneur Marco Tulio runs Eco Comal, an impressive factory operation where he builds a several models of improved wood-fired cookstoves including steel-top planchas, and rocket stoves. I was particularly impressed with Marco’s intricately designed cast masonry stove internals produced from local materials, on-site, and to relatively tight tolerances.

And a . . . talent show

It was great to meet and work with some notable “stovers” like Dean Still (Aprovecho) and Tami Bond (Universithy of Illinois). In the evening following our last round of working group meetings, we kept with tradition by having a talent show where attendees performed, among others, solo flamenco guitar, traditional Rwandan dance and song, and a Nepali trekking song.

Read Dan’s Blog on Cookstove Field Tests in Guatemala.

For more information, contact Dan Sweeney.

Monitoring and Evaluation of the Jiko Poa Cookstove in Kenya

jika poa

Photo Credit: Paradigm Project

The WASHplus project also works towards testing new and innovative approaches and tools for implementation of high-impact indoor air quality interventions. in 2012, WASHplus funded Berkeley Air Monitoring Group to evaluate the Jiko Poa stove, a locally manufactured rocket-type biomass cookstove being distributed in Kenya by the Paradigm Project, a social enterprise. 

The aim of this study was to provide a performance assessment for the Jiko Poa in Kenyan homes by analyzing its effects on household air pollution and fuel use, and by collecting qualitative and quantitative data on how the households valued and used it.The evaluation results are expected to assist the USAID mission in Kenya and its implementation partners as they work to scale-up improved biomass stoves and to inform the sector more broadly on the field performance of rocket biomass stoves in Africa.