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Socio-Cultural Reasons and Community Perceptions Regarding Indoor Cooking Using Biomass Fuel and Traditional Stoves in Rural Ethiopia: A Qualitative Study

Journal article
Authors Mulugeta Tamire
A. Addissie
Susann Skovbjerg
Rune Andersson
Mona Lärstad
Published in Int J Environ Res Public Health
Volume 15
Issue 9
ISSN 1660-4601
Publication year 2018
Published at Institute of Medicine, School of Public Health and Community Medicine
Institute of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Section of Occupational and environmental medicine
Institute of Biomedicine, Department of Infectious Medicine
Language en
Keywords household air pollution, socio-cultural barriers, community perception, Ethiopia, household air-pollution, randomized controlled-trial, middle-income, countries, pneumonia, urban, Environmental Sciences & Ecology, Public, Environmental & Occupational, Health
Subject categories Health Sciences


Around three billion people in the world and 90% of the rural households in low-and middle-income countries are exposed to wood smoke with varying exposure levels and resulting health risks. We aimed to explore perceptions of the community towards indoor cooking and the socio-cultural barriers to bring change in Butajira, rural Ethiopia. We conducted a qualitative study involving ten separate focus group discussions with purposively selected members of the community and two key informant interviews with health extension workers. Content analysis was carried out using ATLAS.ti software. Participants reported the use of fuel wood and traditional three-stone cook stove to cook food. Economic status, lack of commitment, cultural views and concern along with safety and security issues were found to be barriers to change from traditional to cleaner methods of cooking. The community perceived wood smoke to have effects on their eyes and respiratory health, though they culturally viewed it as beneficial for postpartum mothers and newborns, avoiding bad smell and insects and in order to strengthen the fabric of their houses. Health education at community level is essential in order to bring about change in the cultural views and cooking behaviors focusing on opening windows and keeping young children away during cooking.

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