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Assessing Users needs -Indonesia CSI Social Work - Guidance Note, June 2015

2015-10-27 12:23:00

From the Lab to the Field and Back
Guidance Note on User Needs
Social context, gender and user needs in the design and promotion of clean stoves in Indonesia

Why a Qualitative Assessment of Clean Stoves? Important progress has been made in recent years in developing a range of biomass cookstoves that reduce pollutant emissions and burn fuel more efficiently.These improved stoves have the potential to improve health and enhance the quality of life for the 2.5 billion people worldwide who still cook their meals and heat their homes by burning biomass in open fires or inefficient traditional stoves.

Efforts have also been made to develop testing methodologies to evaluate stove emissions and efficiency; a set of accepted test protocols is now available. Fewer studies exist, however, on end-user acceptability, and no single, widely accepted protocol for assessing the social side of stove adoption is available. Gaps in this area are critical; particularly as the rate of adoption of clean stoves has remained low. The benefits of improved stoves will be realized only if people start using them and sustain that use over time. Limited knowledge on usersí preferences is a major challenge to adoption, as is the availability of clean stoves that clearly meet those preferences.

Understanding consumer behavior and the contexts in which a product will be used is a backbone of product design in competitive markets. Insights into what people value, their interests, their social worlds, and cultural influences can lead to unexpected solutions and innovations, increasing the chances for a productís development and sustained use.

As part of efforts to promote the uptake of improved biomass stoves at a large scale, the Indonesia Clean Stove Initiative (CSI) has invested in experimental approaches to better understand end usersí needs and preferences and to assess the performance of technologies and products in their intended context of use. The goal of this work has been to shed light on the social and cultural aspects of technology adoption as complements to technical performance tests on emissions and thermal efficiency. The overall objective of the work has been to make clean stoves more responsive to the preferences of end users, thus increasing the probability that the stoves will actually be used widely over time.

Photo: Veronica Mendizabal

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