SOCIAL DETERMINANTS AND UPTAKE OF SOLAR COOKING PROJECTS- KAKUMA REFUGEE CAMP IN KENYA
Purpose: To investigate the influence of social determinants on uptake of solar cooking projects in Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya.
Methodology: A cross-sectional study of 122 systematically sampled households in Kakuma Refugee Camp was done. Questionnaires were completed to collect information about social norms, family size, security and safety, education level and beneficiary participation. Descriptive statistics were used to summarize the findings.
Findings: All the 122 questionnaires completed by respondents had a mean age (SD) 37.8 (8.6); 85% female. Households in Kakuma mainly acquire their domestic fuel via different means within the camp such as firewood collection, purchases from local vendors or donations from aid agencies. Firewood on open fires was the modal cooking practice at 83.6%, followed by charcoal at 15.6% and solar cooking at 0.8%, while use of alternative fuels like gas, ethanol or kerosene was found to be insignificant. Adoption of solar cooking was observed to be under influence of social norms, family size and education. A greater uptake of solar cooking was noted among respondents with higher education levels and lower uptake among large families.
Unique Contribution to Theory, Practice and Policy: Firewood is given to refugees for domestic fuel in Kakuma Refugee Camp; however, getting adequate supplies for the sprawling camp population is getting increasingly difficult, and environmentally damaging. Solar cooking projects have been implemented as possible solutions albeit with little success. There is a need for humanitarian agencies to make refugees aware and conversant with use of the free, sustainable solar fuel to cook and cognizant of benefits of shifting from wood-based cooking to the cleaner solar cooking option. Household cooking is such a socio-culturally embedded practice in Kakuma that context-specific solar cookers that can fry, boil, and bake using ordinally cooking styles of refugees would be key to a wider-spread solar cooking uptake. In addition, there is a gap between the refugees’ preferred fuel option and their ability to pay. To get solar cooking to scale, more investment is needed and agencies should explore working with local businesses to subsidize cost of solar cookers in camps. Finally, the Kenya and the ISO standards for clean cookstoves need developing since there is a gap and the existing standards mainly focus on solid fuel, biomass or ethanol cookstoves.
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