Gendered time-use and improved cooking solutions

So far, the case for clean energy has been built around health and/or environmental benefits, generally neglecting the sizable benefits that clean energy can have on freeing women’s time and reducing drudgery. Women typically spend disproportionately more time providing unpaid domestic work and caregiving because of deeply held social norms, attitudes, and stereotypes about appropriate gender roles. This gives them less time for education, economic opportunities, and leisure. Having more time and energy can mitigate gender inequalities. So, even though some projects may produce limited health or environmental benefits, they may still deliver sizable livelihood benefits, especially to women.

Existing finance instruments have largely ignored such benefits, in part because they have been challenging to quantify. Since affordability for households of improved technology remains a major challenge, there is a real need for additional or new development finance, which could be channeled by investors and field operators to provide low-cost stoves.

A major challenge, however, in supporting projects with time use benefits is that methods for quantifying and valuing the amount of time lost to drudgery related to household energy use, and for translating those findings into guidance that is actionable for funders and investors. In order to do this, Duke University and CQuest Capital are partnering with the Clean Cooking Alliance to:

1. Deploy rigorous study designs relying on experimental or quasi-experimental impact evaluation methods that allow us to make causal claims about the relationship between time savings and improved cooking solution (ICS) interventions, as well as partnering with organizations deploying these technologies at scale in Malawi, Zambia, Kenya and Tanzania.

2. Conduct systematic testing and comparative assessment of various methods for measuring time savings, experimenting with different survey  techniques such as direct questioning and time diaries.

3. Apply an economic framework and nonmarket valuation methods to (a) indicate how women and other household members benefit from clean energy and ICS use, and (b) identify and measure the parameters needed to calculate time use benefits.

4. Pilot efforts aimed at enhancing the productivity of women and their households alongside the planned clean energy interventions, for example, ICS promotion combined with opportunities that generate income; and

5. Develop actionable guidance for organizations creating standards (e.g., VERRA, Gold Standard) for a new financial instrument, which we call an emPOWERment bond, by engaging with key stakeholders to draft this guide and learn how to refine and apply it.

In pursuing these objectives, the ultimate goal is to help mobilize new and additional finance for clean cooking. Though our focus is on quantifying time use and re-allocation, our studies will also qualitatively consider aspects of livelihoods such as improved household cleanliness, safety, and dignity.

Progress so Far

As of the end of May 2022, we have completed the following related to this project:

  • Produced two secondary data-based manuscripts on the links between time-use and gender empowerment with energy access.
  • Interviews with implementing organizations.
  • Two scoping and piloting field visits, the first of which was to Tanzania and Kenya (abbreviated due to COVID-19 related challenges), and the second to complete the piloting activities in Malawi and Zambia.
  • Developed three baseline survey instruments (household, community, and implementer) for pre-testing; finalization will follow pre-testing in Malawi in early June.
  • Initiated planning of sampling according to implementation realities and timelines in each country.

Team MembersMarc JeulandSubhrendu PattanayakP. P. Krishnapriya, Maya ChandrasekaranRyan McCord, and Kevin Sonke

Field Partners: Richard Mulwa (University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya), Remidius Ruhinduka (University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania), Gelson Tembo (Palm Associates Limited, Lusaka, Zambia), Charles Jumbe (Centre for Independent Evaluations, Lilongwe, Malawi)

Advisors: Amber Peterman (UNC-Chapel Hill and UNICEF), Ashlinn Quinn (Berkeley Air), Joe Cook (Washington State), Rob Bailis (Stockholm Environment Institute), Sinclair Vincent (VERRA), Vikash Talyan (Gold Standard)


Publication Link:


In Case You Missed It…

Marc Jeuland presented “Time-money tradeoffs and the value of the time that women spend obtaining firewood” at the inaugural Environment for Development seminar series, November 15, 2023.

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