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.