NAI researcher George Adu.

Research indicates how to increase use of cooking-gas

Fresh research suggests that cooking-gas subsidies should target the urban poor and rural households. NAI researcher George Adu has looked at incentives to change household behaviour in the use of cooking fuel

Liquefied petroleum gas is highly preferable as cooking fuel to firewood or charcoal. It is better for the environment as well as for human health. Cooking gas produces less carbon, and it doesn’t generate harmful smoke for the person cooking either.
In Ghana, the government has in recent years attempted to promote the use of cooking gas. The price has been subsidised and empty gas cylinders have been distributed. The first cylinder is otherwise expensive, but thereafter just a refill is needed. However, despite these efforts, just less 25 per cent of households in Ghana use gas for cooking. This is why NAI researcher George Adu, together with two fellow researchers, have investigated what determines the choice of fuel for household cooking. By analysing two national household surveys, from 2005-06 and 2012-13, they could identify four decisive factors.

Women more keen to use cooking-gas
The household’s income and location are two of them. Better-off families are more likely to use cooking gas, and urban households are more likely to use it than people living in the countryside.
“Education also matters. Households with higher levels of education tend to be more aware of environmental and health effects of relying on biomass fuel for cooking”, Adu says.
Yet another factor is whether the household’s chief is male or female. If a man leads the household, his only interest is to have food on the table at the end of the day.
“He is not the one cooking and not the one inhaling the smoke”, Adu remarks.

Targetes subsidies
In their article, the researchers recommend that policy-makers continue to subsidise LPG and distribute cylinders, but that is not enough.
“In this case it would be fine to discriminate and target subsidies to poor households and rural families. Moreover, it’s not sufficient to offer empty gas cylinders in the cities. Policy makers should provide incentives to gas distributors to go to remote villages and distribute gas to the rural communities periodically. This will save them time and money required to travel to the city to fill their gas cylinders with higher potential of increasing the demand for LPG as the main cooking fuel in the rural communities,” Adu concludes.

Read article in the journal World Development.

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