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On-farm biochar woodfuel systems in rural Kenya: Some lessons from a case study

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Firewood and charcoal are the most commonly used fuels for cooking in Sub-Saharan Africa as they are relied on by over 90% of the population (IEA, 2006). Mostly, these fuels are unsustainably and inefficiently produced and consumed leading to negative environmental and health impacts. Past efforts to replace the open with more efficient stoves have been unsuccessful because new devices fail to meet the users’ cooking needs. The gasifier is a recent innovation gaining attention as a cooking stove in developing countries (Torres-Rojas et al., 2011). This article is based on a case study from a biochar-bioenergy project where 150 smallholder farmers from Embu, Kwale and Siaya Counties were given Top Lift UpDraft (TLUD) gasifier cookstoves. These were branded as “GASTOV” from the Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute (KIRDI) and provided for free after training on their use. The households were interviewed after three months of using the stove and thereafter participatory cooking tests were conducted whereby 25 randomly selected households in each of the cooked with gasifier and five repeated the with a three-stone open fire for comparison.

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