Environment and Resources

Project: Randomized Free Distribution of Improved Cooking Stoves in Rural Senegal

Project Duration

07/2009 - 12/2011 (finalized)

Commissioned by

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Stabstelle Evaluierung

Project Team (RWI)

Dr. Gunther Bensch, Prof. Dr. Jörg Peters (Chief)


In most developing countries, the majority of households uses solid fuels like wood or charcoal for cooking purposes. Woodfuel usage for cooking purposes is associated with various negative effects on the health, gender, and the disposable income of households. Furthermore, in countries with rather low biomass production such as Senegal, this reliance on woodfuels may cause wood to be extracted in an unsustainable manner. Against this background, in many countries GIZ supports the dissemination of improved cooking stoves that are expected to significantly reduce the wood or charcoal consumption per meal. RWI evaluates GIZ’s improved stove dissemination program in Senegal, whose focus so far has been the dissemination in urban areas. The intention of the program, however, is to extend activities in rural areas with different opportunities and challenges for the program. On the one hand, impact potentials are much higher than in cities where charcoal is used next to gas for cooking purposes. In rural areas, in contrast, people use firewood with implications on smoke emissions and women’s work load. On the other hand, dissemination in rural areas is much more difficult, for example because people do not pay for the firewood and rather collect it, so that the investment in an improved stove does not amortize in monetary terms. In order to assess these impact potentials, but also possible dissemination strategies, RWI applies an experimental evaluation approach in rural Senegal. During a randomized controlled trial, 100 improved stoves were distributed randomly in November 2009 among 250 households that had been interviewed for a baseline survey before. In November 2010, the households were revisited in order to examine usage behavior, firewood consumption, firewood collection time, expenditures and respiratory disease symptoms. Thanks to the experimental set-up, self-selection problems typical for non-experimental studies can be avoided. Furthermore, it can be assessed to what extent people effectively use the improved stoves that they received for free.

Selected project related publications

Articles in Peer-reviewed Journals


Bensch, G. and J. Peters (2015), The Intensive Margin of Technology Adoption - Experimental Evidence on Improved Cooking Stoves in Rural Senegal. Journal of Health Economics 42 : 44-63. DOI: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2015.03.006 

Discussion Papers


Bensch, G. and J. Peters (2012), A Recipe for Success? Randomized Free Distribution of Improved Cooking Stoves in Senegal. Ruhr Economic Papers #325. RWI. DOI: 10.4419/86788374 download