Improved Cook-stoves in Malawi


The Improved Cook Stoves (ICS) is one of the Southern Africa Resilience Innovation Lab (SA RILab) innovation projects implemented in Malawi by a Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) student. The project falls under the Youth Spark Innovation Grant with the ultimate focus to improve Food Security and Improved Income Generation. The improved cook stoves seeks to gather knowledge of consumer preference for ICS that will be used to develop suitable prototype of ICS that can be sold at low cost. The low cost prototype can therefore up-scale the use of ICS in Salima district hence reduce the problems of deforestation and household air pollution.

Problem Addressed

The main problem that the project wants to address is slow adoption and limited utilization of firewood improved cook stoves in Salima district. The problem is primarily caused by unsuitable design of current firewood improved cook stoves for some households, user behavior and cost of firewood improved stoves. The current stoves are perceived as unsuitable for some users` specific cooking needs because of limited end-user consultation during stove design. This result in slow adoption as people do not use the current stoves extensively, rather they still use traditional inefficient stoves for cooking some meals. The long use to odd ways of cooking which are fuel inefficient and produce more smoke results into a behavior that can slow adoption of firewood improved cook stoves in Salima district. Furthermore, the presence of other cheaper cooking alternatives makes people perceive improved cook stoves to be costly. That can result into slow and limited adoption of firewood improved cook stoves. The main effects of the problem include; ill-health due to smoke and high rate of deforestation due to continued use of fuel inefficient traditional three-stone firewood stove.

The Intervention

The project seeks to conduct a research study for the purposes of developing a locally appropriate energy efficient improved cook stoves. To reduce the negative impacts associated with cooking with biomass fuels, improved cook stoves (ICS) are being promoted in many countries, including Malawi. ICS are energy efficient cooking technologies which allow a more complete combustion of firewood hence minimize the emission of black carbon particles that are detrimental to human health and environment (Inayatullah, 2011). Despite various ICS being promoted in Malawi, there is low adoption rate of ICS in rural Malawi (Meyer et al., 2015). Furthermore, fuel stacking is high because even when households have ICS, many continue to use inefficient traditional three-stone fire in addition to ICS. In this regard, there is need to study ICS consumer preferences especially an understanding of features that make ICS attractive to households.


The following will be the benefits for the Malawi communities:

  • Reduce health problems associated with indoor air pollution
  • Positive effects on the environment through deceleration of deforestation.
  • ICS have economic benefits for both producers and consumers. Less fuel consumption due to use of ICS reduces time spent in collecting firewood by 42% to 50% and also expenditures on firewood purchases (Malinski, 2008).
  • ICS users generate an additional time to be spend on income generating activities such as farming, invest into small scale businesses and others.


Contact: Joyce Grevulo; Email: