Cooking for communities, children and cows: Lessons learned from institutional cookstoves in Nepal.

Ben Robinson, Mike Clifford, Joseph Hewitt, Sarah Jewitt

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Despite a long history of Improved Cookstove (ICS) interventions by Non-Governmental Organizations, International Development partners and the Government of Nepal, the majority of rural Nepalese people cook on a traditional open fire for their large-scale cooking needs due to a significant lack of approved institutional-scale cooking solutions. Whilst 65.8% of rural Nepalese households cook with biomass as their primary fuel source to satisfy their personal energy needs, there is no information collected on institutional cooking use by the Government of Nepal. In this paper our main objective was to design, implement and evaluate a novel Institutional Improved Cookstove (IICS) to satisfy this gap and following its manufacturing and testing in a Government of Nepal approved test center, to identify the complex contextual factors that often override the technical capabilities of IICS. Our three-phase method combined qualitative and quantitative research approaches, as well as north-south collaborations involving a transdisciplinary research team to create an integrated systems approach taking into account the voices of all key energy stakeholders. Phase 1 included UK based co-design and testing at the University of Nottingham in 2017 to develop a novel IICS that could be used in rural Nepal. Phase 2 involved adapting the design to accommodate contextual factors highlighted by Nepalese partners and to meet testing requirements at a Government of Nepal approved testing center in late 2017. Phase 3 was conducted between December 2017 and April 2020 and focused on piloting the novel IICS in a range of locations, altitudes, socio-economic and cultural settings, monitoring sustained use and obtaining user feedback. We present our results through three case studies that highlight the highly contextualized nature of IICS adoption and sustained use, the importance of stacking, usability and cost savings, and a number of pathways to scale in an institutional setting.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
JournalEnergy for Sustainable Development
Early online date17 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

©2021 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. on behalf of International Energy Initiative. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (


This project was supported by the Energy for Life/EPSRCGlobal Challenges Research Fund Pump-Priming Call (project code EP/P510993/1) with additional funding from an interdisciplinary Global Challenges Research Fund grant entitled Improving Respiratory Health in Nepal (project code 631169).


  • Institutional cooking
  • Improved cookstoves
  • NepalBiomass
  • TLUD


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