Abstract: Adoption of Clean Cooking Systems in Rural Poor Communities of India: Role of Gender Based Personal Networks (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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Adoption of Clean Cooking Systems in Rural Poor Communities of India: Role of Gender Based Personal Networks

Wednesday, January 20, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Praveen Kumar, PhD, Assistant Professor, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA
Gautam Yadama, PhD, Dean, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA
Introduction: One of the key Grand Challenges of Social Work is to create social responses to a changing environment. In the same vein, the UN Sustainable Development Goal 7 recognizes the pernicious impacts of household air pollution (HAP) on health and environment. HAP expedites global warming, and detrimentally impacts local agricultural productivity. It also impacts health of rural poor population, who primarily rely on traditional cookstoves and fuels for cooking and heating. Recent World Health Organization (WHO) data suggested approximately 41% of the global population use traditional cookstoves and are exposed to HAP. Thus, to realize the Grand Challenge of Social Work on environment and climate change, it is crucial to address the well-being of these vulnerable poor communities, who are disproportionately impacted by household air pollution. Adoption of clean cooking systems especially Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) by poor households is central to address this challenge. Limited systematic evidence is available, which explores the role of gender based personal networks in adoption of LPG. The primary objective of our case control study funded by the National Institutes of Health is to investigate the association of gender based personal networks and LPG adoption in below poverty line communities of rural India. This is the first study to utilize egocentric social network analysis in clean cooking research in India.

Methods: We used multistage random sampling to select: 1) 35 habitations; and 2) 200 rural households in Andhra Pradesh state of India. Respondents were women (primary cook of the household). Two groups of personal network data were collected: 1) 100 women from households with LPG; 2) 100 women from households using only traditional stoves (no LPG). Social network analysis and binomial logistic regression was conducted to explore findings. All analyses was undertaken in R version 3.0.3.

Results: Key findings are: 1) LPG users have significantly more social contacts with peers who are also LPG users, while traditional stove users have significantly more social contacts with peers who are also traditional stove users (t= -8.01, p<0.01); 2) Separation in personal networks exists between LPG users and traditional stove users; and 3) Adjusting for social, economic, and demographic predictors, likelihood of LPG adoption is significantly associated with LPG adoption by respondents’ peers (OR: 42.5, 95% CI: 5.6 – 417.6).

Discussion: Our findings have implications for research and policy: 1) Personal social network analyses can be utilized to identify opinion leaders, who could be instrumental in encouraging LPG adoption in poor communities; 2) In a gender segregated social system, gender based networks can be harnessed for clean cooking awareness generation strategy; and 3) The science of dissemination and implementation of clean cooking systems must focus on developing technically robust technologies and engineering design. However, it should be grounded in the context of localized social and behavioral imperatives for driving sustained uptake of these technologies in rural poor communities.