Incentives for increased use of clean cookstoves (Cambodia)

We conducted pilot experiments that aim to incentivize use of clean stoves in 4 rural Cambodian villages to better 1) understand their potential for inducing behavior change; 2) assess their feasibility; and 3) discern whether larger-scale testing in a future experimental study is warranted. Specifically, we tested if monetary incentives that are commensurate with social benefits induce households to use cleaner technologies more intensively. We compared groups with no use incentives and 3 groups receiving varying levels of incentives (low, medium, high).

This study was motivated by the now well-documented observation that purchase alone is insufficient for achieving environmental health and other benefits, even among demand-driven interventions. For one, technologies that are successfully aligned with preferences and marketed to households must be sufficiently clean and sufficiently used (not just stacked with other technologies) to reduce harmful exposures to air pollution. Given that many of the benefits from use of cleaner technologies (e.g., reduced black carbon and health-damaging PM2.5 emissions, and preservation of local forest stocks) are external to those adopting them, incentives for use may be misaligned. Second, these alternative technologies must be viable over the long term, standing up to the wear and tear of daily use, allowing for servicing and repair, and proving adaptable to a range of food preparations.

Main research collaborators:

  • Faraz Usmani (Duke)
  • Jason Steele (SNV-Cambodia)

Related Publications:

Usmani, F.; J. Steele; M. Jeuland (2017). Can economic incentives enhance adoption and use of a household energy technology? Evidence from a pilot study in CambodiaEnvironmental Research Letters12(3), 035009.

Abstract. While much work has examined approaches to increase uptake of a variety of household environmental, health and energy technologies, researchers and policymakers alike have struggled to ensure long-term use. Drawing on a pilot-scale experiment conducted in rural Cambodia, this study evaluates whether economic incentives enhance continued use of—and fuel savings from—improved cookstoves (ICS). Capital-cost subsidies that have been traditionally employed to enhance ICS adoption were augmented with rebates linked to stated and objectively measured use in order to investigate impacts on both initial and sustained adoption in the treatment group. Results show that households do respond to these rebates by adopting the intervention ICS at significantly higher rates, and by using it more frequently and for longer periods. Consistent with these stove-use patterns, solid-fuel use and time spent collecting or preparing fuels also decline. However, this effect appears to diminish over time. Thus, while economic inducements may significantly increase adoption and use of new environmental health technologies, corresponding reductions in environmental or livelihood burdens are not guaranteed. Additional research on the design and implementation of incentive-based interventions targeting households directly—such as carbon financing or other forms of results-based financing (RBF) for improved cookstoves—therefore seems warranted prior to wider implementation of such solutions.