Africare is the Partner of the Month of April!

Africare is the Partner of the Month of April!

In this interview, the Country Director, Doherty Orode shares their involvement in the clean cookstoves sector.

Give us a brief introduction about your organisation. What are the objectives of your organisation?

Africare is one of the most experienced and largest African-American led non-profit international development organizations providing development assistance in African countries. We have worked in thirty-six African countries and are currently operating in fourteen. Africare commenced operations in Nigeria in 1978 and has since gained substantial experience collaborating with the private sector; government at national and sub-national level as well as community stakeholders to deliver community-based interventions to the hard-to-reach vulnerable population.

What does your organisation seek to achieve in Nigeria’s cooking energy market?

Our organization seeks to increase the percentage of the Nigerian populace who are aware of LPG, increase the correct and consistent adoption of LPG cookstoves and fuel thus increasing the demand for LPG in households across Nigeria.

What are the opportunities in the business environment that have supported your organisation’s involvement in the clean cookstove sector over the years?

We have continuously engaged major LPG stakeholders in the National LPG Association and the Women in LPG Nigeria Chapter, to identify business opportunities to encourage women to enter the LPG value chain.

Can you share the details of your Behavioural Change Campaign and its potential impacts on clean cookstove adoption in Nigeria?

Our primary audience is women because in almost all cultures of the world cooking is done by women. We intend to reach them through grassroot level community engagement, using Interpersonal communication (IPC) agents based in the target communities and speak the local language. These agents will conduct house-to-house and group education sessions to increase awareness about LPG; provide correct and consistent information on LPG in the language best understood by the respective community, and address fears, myths, and misconceptions concerning LPG use through practical demonstrations. We will also work with influencers admired by the communities to promote the benefits of using LPG over dirty cooking fuels and motivate non-users to make the switch to using LPG exclusively. Consequently, non-users (especially women) who switch to LPG and experience the positive difference it makes in their lives will advocate its adoption to others in their social networks. The extent of such diffusion of information through social networks is wide-reaching and will demonstrate Behaviour Change Communication (BCC) as an effective tool to rapidly scaling up adoption of LPG in Nigeria. This will also help promote the adoption of BCC in market shaping communications in the clean cookstove sector in Nigeria.

Africare at the International Women's Day 2017
Africare educating women and students about the dangers of cooking with dirty fuels and promoting LPG at the International Women’s Day 2017

If you are asked to advise the Federal Government of Nigeria on policy options, what are the three most important things the government can do to expand the market?

Adopt the National Gas Policy into legislation. This will create an enabling environment for more private sector investment into infrastructure across the LPG supply chain, as well as strengthen the regulatory mechanism to monitor and enforce quality and safety standards amongst plant operators, truckers, and retailers.
Implement initiatives to encourage more women participation and representation in the LPG value chain. Cooking is essentially a gender issue and women-centered initiatives that attract more women into LPG value chain will have a multiplier effect in creating numerous job opportunities as well as improving the health and socioeconomic outcomes of women. Therefore, the Ministries of Women Affairs, Health and Finance should play a leading role in supporting and implementing initiatives to scale up women’s participation in the LPG market.

Introduce environmental policies that ban tree-felling and specifically directs Government agencies to convert to using LPG alone as their cooking fuel. This espouses leadership by example and will compel more citizens to examine their attitudes towards LPG based on the behaviour of authority figures. The Ministry of Environment can lead the charge to promote the adoption of LPG in public offices, tree planting and other initiatives to support household LPG adoption, as well as collaborate with enforcement agencies to monitor and penalize unregulated tree felling activities. If these efforts are sustained, they will impact on firewood sellers and possibly compel them to switch to LPG sales, thereby expanding the market.

Where do you envisage your organization to be in the next 5 years in terms of influencing behavioural change?

In terms of influencing behaviour change, in next 5 years, Africare will be among the foremost international development organization influencing the hearts and minds of communities and individuals to achieve improved health, nutrition and education of the teeming Nigerian populace and also empowering women and youth.

What are your suggestions for moving the cooking energy market forward in Nigeria?

Evidence-based, synchronized demand and supply side approaches should be explored and implemented. Data gathering should also be an important part of the response, to determine which approaches work best in boosting LPG uptake. Emphasis should be laid on importance of reliable data e.g. geo-spatially mapped LPG resources such as skid tank locations, and made publicly available so that incoming stakeholders can easily identify gaps and areas of synchronicity and synergy into the market.

A critical piece is regulation by the Department of Petroleum Resources to enhance safety and therefore acceptability of the fuel. It is necessary to ensure skid tanks that are approved meet all the safety regulations and requirements. Conducting continuous training as well as refresher courses for retailers and last mile distributors will also improve safety practices.

Stakeholder meeting with NLPGA
Country Director, Africare; Doherty Orode making a presentation at a stakeholder meeting with the Nigeria Liquefied Petroleum Gas Association (NLPGA)

Recognizing the fragmentation of the LPG industry, regular convener meetings should be arranged to allow continuing conversation and identification of opportunities for further strengthening and cohesion.
More collaboration between industries on integrated interventions (e.g. health and economic empowerment) will significantly boost LPG uptake in Nigeria. Those integrated interventions that target switching women in homes to cleaner cooking fuels should include a BCC component that addresses the major barriers such as affordability and the fear of use. Suppliers should explore cascade opportunities to reduce the switch-over cost for the poorest of the poor.

Is there any other thing you would like to share?

Africare is very excited for the opportunity to work in the clean cooking space promoting LPG uptake, and we are especially glad for the opportunity to work alongside McCann Global Health, a world leader in strategic communication. We take this role seriously as it represents an opportunity to address a burning social justice issue. By lending our voice to promoting clean cooking, we are pushing the conversation forward on how best to ensure Nigerian women have access to LPG, a vital and highly available resource in Nigeria. Also, through participating in various stakeholder forums, Africare is advocating for increased adoption of LPG as it addresses a major developmental hiccup for women by eliminating the drudgery of gathering fuel and cooking, saving time, and improving health outcomes for herself and her unborn babies and children.

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