Access to sustainable and effective energy services is central to every challenge and opportunity that humanity and the planet face today. As a result, there is unprecedented consensus that the ways in which energy is produced, distributed, and consumed can have major positive or negative consequences for humans, the environment, and the broader ecosystem, and therefore, a direct or indirect effect on achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and complying with the Paris Agreement. The situation in the developed and middle-income countries is such that most households have sustained and effective access to cooking energy services. In contrast, almost 80-90% of household in developing countries, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, lacks such access or face constant interruptions due to financial insecurities, and unreliable or insecure energy services. Technological development has widely been viewed and supported as the solution to these challenges. However, while technological development is an important element in addressing this challenge, the central role of individual and societal factors in influencing the acceptance, sustainable access, and effective uses of technologies is often overlooked. Nevertheless, technological processes are negotiated, developed, implemented, and used within social contexts. The objective of this thesis is to understand and contextualize the factors that facilitate or hinder sustainable and effective access to cooking energy services within households in the informal settlement of Kibera, with a focus on biomass improved cookstoves (ICSs). Guided by the needs-opportunity-ability model (NOA), this thesis first examines the needs that households seek to fulfil through cooking energy services. It then assesses the state of abilities and opportunities in order to understand the limitations and opportunities available and accessible to households to meet their desired needs. Lastly, the role of individual and societal factors are examined at the micro, meso, and macro levels in enabling or hindering sustainable access and effective use of the cooking energy services sought and desired by households. This approach is especially important because it recognizes that energy access processes are also shaped by a broad spectrum of influences that lie outside the households’ direct control or the nature of technological outcomes. The findings of this thesis show that households have multiple and diverse needs that they seek to fulfil through cooking energy services. Moreover, the findings confirm, as emphasized in the NOA model, the influential and interconnected roles of factors at the micro and macro levels in influencing consumer behavior and outcomes. Furthermore, it is found that meso-level factors also have significant influence on sustained access and effective use of cooking energy services, and might even exert stronger influence than macro-level factors, due to their immediacy and direct connection to the user and their day-to-day activities and livelihoods. This thesis concludes that, rather than household resistance to embracing sustainable and effective cooking energy services, the most persistent barriers to the adoption of sustainable and effective cooking energy services relate to how user needs are understood or fail to be understood, and the lack of appropriate and secure abilities and opportunities. Therefore, while several opportunities to address the challenges of access to clean and effective cooking energy services were identified, a range of individual and structural challenges would also need to be overcome to facilitate sustainable and effective progress. To overcome these challenges in Kibera, a range of options are proposed to improve and strengthen sustained access and effective use of cooking energy services. These recommendations emphasize the need for ongoing and holistic understanding of households' needs and realities, as well as the central role played by interacting forces at the micro, meso, and macro levels in influencing access conditions and outcomes for humans and the environment of advocated cooking energy services. More specifically, the recommendations call for greater attention to the social and contextual dimensions and dynamics of cooking energy production, distribution, and consumption processes, as demonstrated in the ‘landscape’ of cooking energy access that is one of the major outcomes of this thesis.
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Mbungu, G. K. (2020). Factors that enable or hinder sustained access to sustainable and effective cooking energy services. The case of the informal settlement of Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya. PhD Thesis, Institut für Sozialwissenschaften der Universität Stuttgart, Stuttgart.
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