Miriam Akinyi Wanjiku’ lives with her husband and two children in one of Kenya’s urban centers where she sells second hand clothes for a living. Together with her taxi driver husband, they make a combined family income of ksh. 50,000. Miriam loves her family and always wants the best for them. ‘Miriam Akinyi Wanjiku’ represents Kenyan women aged between 25-50 years who live in the fast lane where every minute is crucial as they try to make an extra shilling to survive. Her day begins with breakfast for her lovely family which she cooks using a kerosene stove that is ‘fast’ enough for quick meals. This enables her to leave for the market in time for her business. Her evening meals require more time for cooking and so she uses a traditional charcoal stove that could be made of metal and other additions. Unfortunately unknown to her, the smoke emanating from the two cooking technologies present Miriam and her family with potential risks of getting acute respiratory infections like pneumonia, TB and even lung cancer. Apart from the high smoke levels emanating from the charcoal smoke, the stoves she uses currently wastes a lot of energy/heat meaning that Miriam uses a lot of fuel. This puts strain on her family because a third of her family expenditure goes to fuel alone. She would have preferred to use an LPG (gas) stove due to its clean cooking nature and speed but she considers this ‘beyond her reach financially’. Miriam needs an intervention that will be able to give her efficient cooking, speed and also take care of her health and finances.
In order to improve Miriam’s cooking experience to one that is healthier, cleaner and cost effective, PS Kenya is implementing a behavior change communication campaign that aims to create awareness to ‘Miriams’ in Kenya on benefits of cleaner cooking, what cooking technologies exist and where they can be found. The PS Kenya project is multi-sectorial touching on various sectors in Kenya including energy, education, environment, home economics and gender therefore, involvement of these sectors is the key to the successful implementation of the project. This is not as easy as it may look because some ministries with the exemption of Ministry of Health are not as used to working on such community projects as this one.
PS Kenya first organized a country entry that was attended by representatives from the above ministries. Key on the agenda was to introduce the project to these and demonstrate how this would affect various indicators in their sectors. Demonstration of impact of the project to various sectors would enable the different players to feel part of the project and get involved. The result of the county stakeholders meeting was the creation of a multi-sectorial team in each of the 17 counties that will work together with PS Kenya on the implementation. Working as a multi-sectorial team has the benefits of bringing all the major sectors’ input into implementation. This is beneficial because the project got support from the various sectors. A case in point is the proposal to involve school heads and religious leaders in the campaign to increase the catchment. This team was involved in the identification, vetting and recruitment of frontline workers that PS Kenya would use during the interpersonal communication activities. Other activities that the team is involved in is working with PS Kenya during the training of frontline workers and participation in community education activities.
Working with the Multi-sectorial county teams has added a lot of value to the project since the project is ‘co-owned’ by PS Kenya and the Counties’ ministries. This partnership has seen implementation on notable initiatives including identification and training of frontline workers for the project and the nurturing of these teams. Working through this team at the counties presents an exciting way of managing cook stove projects and with the buy-in already at the high level, then communities are bound to benefit more from these partnerships.