Rings of Fire: Assessing the Use of Efficient Cook Stoves in Rural Guatemala

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More than half of the world’s population still depends on open-fires for cooking, causing an alarming array of health and environmental concerns. Over the past few decades, many efforts have been made around the world to substitute open fires with improved cook stoves (ICSs), which reduce both smoke and wood consumption. However, these efforts have turned out mixed results. In Guatemala, an NGO called HELPS International has been distributing a specific type of improved cook stove, the ONIL Stove, for more than 11 years. The objectives of my study are threefold: 1) to measure the level of ONIL stove utilization, 2) to explain the differences in usage levels across regions by examining potential reasons why people do not use ONIL stoves, and 3) to recommend practicable interventions that HELPS could undertake in order to enhance the effectiveness of the ONIL stove program.

The key methods employed in this study were a structured oral survey, focus group discussions, in-depth interviews, and participant observation. Analysis finds a great deal of variance across the selected communities. This study concludes that in order to maximize the health and environment benefits of the ICSs, it is not enough to ensure that households regularly use the ICS. Instead, HELPS needs to strive toward “intact adoption,” which this study defines as the combination of 1) the daily use of the ICS; 2) no parallel use of less efficient cooking methods; and 3) no efficiency-reducing alterations of the ICS design on the part of recipients.





von Ritter Figueres, Naima (2010). Rings of Fire: Assessing the Use of Efficient Cook Stoves in Rural Guatemala. Honors thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/3186.

Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.