The influence of improved stoves on intrahousehold resource allocation among rural households in Luanda division, Vihiga district , Kenya
Silabeya, Naomi Yieko
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Vihiga District is one of the areas in Kenya experiencing severe fuel-wood crisis due to its high population. Consequently, this area has received considerable attention in terms of improved stove dissemination from several NGOs and government agencies. However, although it is known that fuel-wood scarcity puts a strain on the rural woman's time, energy and income, no known study had been conducted to appraise the contribution of improved wood-stoves in arresting this problem. The purpose of this study, therefore, was to investigate if the use of improved wood-stoves causes any resource allocation changes that improves the Users' quality of life. The study adopted the descriptive survey design. A sample of 100 households (50 Users and 50 Non-users of improved wood-stoves) was selected using multistage sampling, from two purposively selected villages, in Luanda Division, with the highest utilisation of improved wood-stoves. Data was collected using an interview schedule and an observation checklist. Frequencies and percentages were used to organize data while t-test and chi-square was used to test differences and associations respectively. The results show that Users of the improved wood-stoves spent higher percentages of their working time on economic activities like farm-work, paid work and care of livestock as compared to Non-users who spent more time on non-economic activities like fetching water and collecting firewood. Both Users and Non-users had similar priorities in allocation of money albeit slight differences in the percentage allocations. Non-users, however, reported that their resources (time, money and energy) for fuel acquisition were quite inadequate. There was a statistically significant difference in the quality of life of Users and Non-users in favour of the Users. The study also found out that socio-economic characteristics such as age, occupation, marital status and membership to social groups significantly influence the use of improved stoves. Most of the respondents were married women aged between 30 and 59 years. Many of them were housewives who also undertook peasant farming and small-scale business activities. Majority of the Users used their stoves always and preferred them to the traditional 3-stone fireplace due their fuel saving ability. Cracking of the liners and too much smoke were the major problems experienced by Users of the two commonly used improved stoves, Maendeleo and Enzaro, stoves respectively. Lack of awareness and unavailability of the stoves were the main inhibitors of adoption. In conclusion, use of the improved wood-stoves causes resource allocation changes, which improve the Users' quality of life, and thus their widespread adoption and use can go a long way in improving the lives of rural households. It is, therefore, recommended that aggressive dissemination strategies should be embraced with conscious effort being made to reach the young rural women who have not adopted the stoves and yet need them most due to the nature of their workload and to improve their quality of life.