In this final blog post of mine, I would like to sum up the survey result and write about lessons learned from the rapid impact assessment. For those who have just tuned into Kopernik's blog, over the summer I conducted a rapid impact assessment of the Greenway Smart Stoves, distributed in India through Kopernik's partnership with local NGO Haritika for a project called Smarter Cooking for Indian Women.
The rapid impact assessment consisted of a baseline survey from late June to early July and a subsequent follow-up survey from late July to early August. The baseline survey took place when new stove owners first make their purchase. Haritika staff and I then went back to visit the same people at least one month after they made the purchase. We spoke with 41 new stove owners spanned throughout 3 villages for the baseline survey, but because of timing constraints and a conflicting festival in one of the villages, we were only able to interview 23 of the same owners in 2 villages for the follow-up survey.
The stove owners with whom we spoke purchased their cookstove at a subsidized rate of Rs.500 (about 9 USD). Those who faced financial hardships but still wanted to purchase the stove were given the option of paying in installments for the stove.
To begin with, I conducted the rapid impact assessment based on the following three hypotheses:
- The time spent on cooking will decrease
- The frequency and time to collect firewood will decrease
- Some health improvements will be felt by Greenway Smart Stove users
Almost all working members of the households are exclusively farmers, except a few who also work as temporary laborers. The number of family members ranges from 2 to 9, with the average number being 6 members. More than 80% of respondents live the monthly income of below Rs.6,000 (USD 108).
Figure 1. Monthly income of survey respondents
Changes in time spent on cooking
Every household member in charge of preparing meals cooks twice a day, most often in the morning and afternoon. I had hypothesized that the time spent in cooking will decrease based on the assumption that the Greenway Smart Stove has better heat efficiency than the traditional chulha cookstoves typically used in India. The survey results support that claim. Before using the Greenway Smart Stove, more than 40% (17) of respondents answered that it takes more than 60 minutes to prepare each meal with the chulha. However, at the follow-up survey, no one answered that it took more than 60 minutes to prepare a meal. Moreover, the percentage of people who answered it takes less than 45 minutes to cook increased from 10% (4 people) in the baseline survey to 39% (9 people) in the follow-up survey (see figure 2 below). These initial results hint at a clear reduction of time spent on cooking when people switch from chulha to Greenway Smart Stove, which means there is now more time available to do other productive or income-earning activities.
Figure 2. Changes in time spent to prepare meals
Changes in firewood consumption
People switching to Greenway Smart Stove also reported a decrease in the time spent to collect firewood used for cooking. As the figure 3 below shows, with the Greenway Smart Stove, 65% of new stove owners (15) take less than 1 hour to collect firewood for cooking use while with the chulha, only 12% (5) collected firewood in the same duration. Similarly, after starting to use the Greenway Smart Stove, the number of those who take more than 2 hours to collect firewood dropped to zero--a significant change considering that at the time of baseline survey 20 people did spend that much time. There were no significant differences in the frequency of times collecting firewood, however. In order to observe the detailed relationship between time and frequency of collecting firewood, it would be necessary to assess the changes in the amount of firewood each household collects, which I could not gather this time. This would be something to further look into in a future assessment.
Figure 3. Changes in time spent on each firewood collection
Ratings of the Greenway Smart Stove
As the graph below shows, most people with whom we spoke rated the Greenway Smart Stove as “very useful", which is the highest rating in the range of options available. Approximately 70% of those who rated the stove as "useful" or "very useful" listed ease of use as the most likable feature for the cookstove. About 10% listed the quickness of preparing food as another feature of the stove that they liked, while another 20% noted that they liked the stove because it uses less amount of firewood and emits noticeably less smoke when compared with using the chulha.
FIgure 4. Breakdown of the ratings of the Greenway Smart Stove
As the preliminary data above shows, Greenway Smart Stove brings positive impact to poor households in India, especially through reducing time to cook and to collect firewood. I also asked beneficiaries whether they feel any health improvements after starting to use the Greenway Smart Stove, to which some answered yes although they did not elaborate as to what symptoms they felt improvements in. It is difficult to observe health improvements, if any, in a short time, and it would be necessary to assess the impact at a longer usage period to see whether there are any positive health improvements for the new stove owners (for example, improvement of lung disease by inhaling less carbon monoxide from the less smoke emitted).
The second lesson I learned is that stove capacity really matters and should be observed. Some people told me that the Greenway Smart Stove takes more time to cook than the chulha. I wondered why, and after talking with a staff at Greenway Grameen Infra (the company that manufactures the stove), I learned that the answer most likely arises because the stove is suitable for households with 4 to 5 family members. Those who told me the above have 9 to 10 family members living in their households, and thus the small size of the stove was not adequate enough to accommodate cooking with large pots, hence the longer time it takes to cook. This is an important lesson to impart to other organizations distributing Greenway Smart Stoves when selecting households to benefit from the stove.
Finally, thanks for following my posts all this while! You can read my full impact assessment report below, or download it here. Please leave comments and share your thoughts about it - I'd love to hear them.