Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I once again suck at blogging

So remember when it has been over a month since I have blogged? I remember.

Work has been a little bit slow. The NGO that we are partnering with has been having some budget issues and we are waiting for the donors to sign the next installment. Thus, we have no funds to conduct any more workshops or do our constituency research.

However, my boss at Columbia has another project he is working on with the Millennium Villages Project (MVP part of the UNDP) in Ruhiira which is a village just about 20 km from the Tanzania border. The MVP project is the UN's attempt at development. They have selected villages all over the developing world and are trying this development scheme in an effort to understand what development approaches used in these villages is exportable.

The aspect I am working on is stove distribution. MVP has some stoves that reduce the amount of wood needed to cook as well as reduces the carbon gases that are emitted. So, the stoves will save the family time and money (gathering and purchasing wood) and will help the environment (less gas emissions and less wood will be burned; this area of the country is suffering from a huge wood shortage; sometimes people have food but starve because there is no wood or any other way to cook the food).

We are running an experiment to see if local “ambassadors” are effective in marketing the stoves. I will end the explanation there because any further explaining has the potential to bore many. My role in the whole thing is running a buyers/non-buyers survey to assess why some buy and other don’t.

This is very interesting because there are a lot of issues surrounding the purchase of these stoves. One is the gender issues.

The biggest issue is that the stoves benefit women because they are the ones that gather wood and cook. However, men control the money, so if a woman wants to buy a stove, her husband has to approve, and this is much easier said than done. Also, men will only see an economic incentive to purchasing the stove if their household purchases rather than gathers wood. If the household gather’s wood (when I say household I actually mean the women in the home), then the household does not save money from buying less wood; the woman only saves time from gathering wood. Thus no direct economic benefit for men; therefore, we would see fewer homes buying stoves when the household gathers rather than purchases its wood.

This is a very interesting situation, and hopefully we will find something that can help us help as many households as possible get these stoves because it is actually a huge benefit to them, their community, and environment.