Fuel Efficient Stove Programs in IDP Settings - Summary Evaluation Report, Uganda
Academy for Educational Development for USAID, September 2007
Introduction: Evaluation Objectives
Around the world, conflict and natural disasters have displaced millions of people. Displaced populations fleeing to settlement camps and seeking safety in host villages often put great stress on natural resources, leading to environmental degradation and conflict with local populations. One of the greatest needs of all people affected by crisis, be they displaced, settled or on the move, is firewood or other types of fuel to heat their homes, cook their food, and treat water for drinking and food preparation. The risks endured (especially by women and children) collecting sometimes scarce wood resources constitute some of the most challenging and serious protection concerns both in IDP camps and in villages where the conflict over resources is high.
USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) has been one of the key US Government funders of humanitarian agencies implementing fuel-efficient stove (FES) programs in IDP settings. The FES programs are intended to help the agencies accomplish various goals, such as improve food security or decrease deforestation, by reducing fuel consumption. However, the large number of implementers, their varying motives and degrees of expertise, and differing conditions within and among IDP communities have made it difficult for OFDA to determine the relative efficacy of the FES interventions and provide guidelines for USAID-funded entities working in IDP settings.
Therefore, OFDA enlisted the assistance of the USAID Energy Team to undertake a multi-phase evaluation in order to derive “best practices” for future FES interventions. While the primary purpose of this evaluation is to provide guidance to USAID-funded organizations, USAID hopes to inform the broader humanitarian community by sharing the results of the evaluation with them as well. Eventually, the best practices will be developed into a series of recommendations and toolkits for use by NGOs, donors, and other groups operating FES programs in IDP settings.
Phase I of the evaluation process (November 2006) was a desk study of recent FES projects in refugee and IDP settings. Based on the Desk Study findings, Phase II (December 2006) entailed the development of a methodology for conducting the evaluation fieldwork. Phase III consisted of on-site research in IDP camps in Northern Uganda and is the subject of this report. A second field test is planned for Darfur, Sudan. Phase IV will entail the development of appropriate methodologies for future FES interventions and will be completed after the fieldwork.
The Phase III field research was carried out through a two-week data-collection mission in January/February 2007, and a 12-day verification mission in March/April, which included additional data collection where required. The evaluation team consisted of Ugandan and international experts in household energy, humanitarian, and gender issues, as well as USAID staff. During the two missions the evaluators investigated the FES programs of four NGOs in Gulu, Kitgum and Lira districts. Two of the NGOs had received funding from USAID. The NGOs are not named in this report and are identified only as NGO A, B, C and D.
The evaluation methodology incorporated a number of different tools in order to collect both quantitative and qualitative data on the FES programs. The underlying objectives were to determine 1) if the FES interventions were meeting their fuel saving goals, and 2) why or why not.
Specific areas examined included:
• Cooking technologies
• User outreach and education programs
• Stove production and dissemination strategies
• FES project monitoring and evaluation (M&E) frameworks
This summary report consolidates the findings from the programs that were evaluated and presents OFDA with preliminary recommendations designed to improve the impact and quality of its future support to FES activities in IDP situations. Final recommendations and “lessons learned” will be developed after the Sudan evaluation is completed.
Fuel-efficient stoves (FES) may deliver numerous benefits to households in developing countries, including fuel and time savings, reduced exposure to smoke, and less danger from fire and burns. Programs promoting FES may therefore seem well-suited to IDP settings, where such multi-sectoral benefits typically are urgently needed. But moving a project forward from a proposal to one capable of realizing verifiable benefits can be a complex undertaking.
To better understand FES program drivers and outcomes, the USAID evaluation in Northern Uganda examined three types of FES being promoted by four different non-government organizations (NGOs), to ascertain whether the stoves were indeed reducing fuel consumption. In addition, the evaluation team sought to identify behavioral and programmatic factors that influenced the likelihood of the FES programs meeting their fuel savings and other goals. The evaluation revealed that not all stoves being promoted in Northern Uganda were appropriate, nor were all improved stove programs being implemented appropriately. Key findings of the evaluation include:
• Field staff work in extremely difficult conditions, and face considerable pressure to deliver results quickly. All of the NGOs examined had succeeded in disseminating stoves to large numbers of camp residents.
• Stove efficiency tests conducted by the evaluation team could not verify fuel saving claims reported by the evaluated NGOs. Some of the stoves tested consumed more fuel than the open fire.
• Implementing NGOs had insufficient quality control systems in place to guide their programs. Few NGOs had collected baseline data, monitoring and evaluation procedures were weak, and too much emphasis was placed on quantity, rather than quality, of stoves produced.
• Many field staff are overburdened, and lack the requisite time and technical expertise to successfully implement FES programs. Headquarters support was largely non-existent, especially for programs in which FES were just one component of a broader strategy (i.e., food security, livelihoods).
• NGOs that sought to standardize stove production, via paid specialist staff or mass production techniques, were better able to maintain design parameters critical for efficient combustion than NGOs that relied on beneficiaries to build their own stoves.
• Implementing NGOs need to spend more time on enduser education, to ensure behavior change messages are transmitted effectively and that beneficiaries know how to use their stoves to obtain maximum benefits.
Focus group discussions and one-on-one interviews revealed that IDPs in Northern Uganda are very interested in new cooking technologies, and especially welcome benefits that improve their overall quality of life (such as keeping ashes contained and soot out of the food). The evaluation team concludes that the promotion of FES remains a valid intervention for humanitarian assistance programs, but recommends that donors set specific minimum standards to increase the likelihood that FES programs will obtain their objectives. In particular, FES programs should first demonstrate the capacity of particular stoves to reduce energy consumption in the camps in which they are to be promoted BEFORE they are produced and disseminated on a large scale.
This will require the application of certain technical standards and realistic testing protocols, as well as the appropriate staff composition at the NGO level. Measures to monitor and improve quality control of stove production should also be incorporated into all FES programs.
Finally, there are other technologies that can help conserve energy in addition to stoves, and the team recommends that donors and implementing NGOs consider integrated methods to minimize fuel consumption and maximize time savings. In areas like Northern Uganda where the prevailing diet includes slow-cooking foods such as beans, introduction of retained heat cookers may be a worthwhile addition to FES programs.
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