Independent Research - Ugunja, Kenya
Major: Environmental Studies, Concentration: Sustainable Development
This summer I returned to the land of lions, hippos and cook stoves -- Kenya -- to conduct field research for my honor thesis. I traced a large-scale energy efficient cook stoves project in rural western Kenya under a carbon offsets mechanism, which has recently been co-developed by a youth-focused community-based organization and a Swiss-based foundation. Using a political ecology framework, I seek to understand how carbon finance enables the involvement of local youth organization in the highly politicized issues of stove dissemination.
I spent nine weeks between a small rural town, where the youth organization locates, and the village where the cook stove project pilot phase was implemented. I worked at the organization both as a volunteer and researcher to help the organization identify gaps in rolling out the rather risky and complex carbon offset energy efficient cook stove project. In total, I conducted 6 focus group interviews and 40 individual interviews and used various opportunities for informal meetings and observations. Most of the time, I stayed with a big family in the village (“shamba”) for a semi-off-grid life, the most valuable experience being exchanging cooking techniques and cultural perspectives.