Public participation in technological innovation: The case of the Tshulu stove development programme


  • Tafadzwa Makonese SeTAR Centre, Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, University of Johannesburg, P. Bag 524, Johannesburg 2006, South Africa
  • Christopher M. S. Bradnum Department of Industrial Design, Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg



co-design, energy efficiency, energy policy, improved cookstove


The design of products for developing communities often excludes the end-users in the decision making process. The study aims to investigate public participation and engagement in the design and development of the Tshulu woodstove. Results of this research point to the need for improved communication between citizens and technical experts, as well as for narrowing the gap between the designer and the user by encouraging meaningful engagement and inclusion. Bottom-up approaches ensure sustained participation of the public, in turn increasing a sense of ownership in the product. These results have implications for energy policy and improved cookstove programmes for developing communities.

Keywords: co-design; energy efficiency; energy policy; improved cookstove


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Tafadzwa Makonese, SeTAR Centre, Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, University of Johannesburg, P. Bag 524, Johannesburg 2006, South Africa

Research Scientist, SeTAR Centre


Alem, Y., Beyene, A.D., Kohlin, G. and Mekonnen, A. 2014. Determinants of household fuel choice in urban Ethiopia. The environment for development Discussion Paper DRB 13-12 . Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Aref, F., Redzuan, M. 2009. Assessing the level of community participation as a component of community capacity building for tourism development. European Journal of Social Science 8: 68–75.

Barnes, D. F., Openshaw, K., Smith, K.R., van der Plas, R. 1994. What makes people cook with improved biomass stoves? A comparative international review of stove programs. World Bank Technical Paper No. 242, Washington, DC.

Berger, K., Crafford, J. E., Gaigher, I., Gaigher, M. J., Hahan, N., and Macdonald, I. 2003. A first synthesis of the environmental, biological & cultural assets of the Soutpansberg. Louis Trichardt, South Africa: Leach Pinters & Signs CC.

Bryden, M., Still, D., Scott, P., Hoffa, O., Ogle, D., Bailis, R., and Goyer, K. 2005. Design principles for wood burning cookstoves. Available online at: Viewed June 2013.

Duflo, E., Greenstone, M. and Hanna, R. 2008. Indoor air pollution, health and economic well-being. Surveys and Perspectives Integrating Environment and Society 1: 1–9.

Energy for Sustainable Development. 2000. Poverty reduction aspects of successful improved household stoves programmes, Final summary report, Report No. DFID KaR R7368, Energy for Sustainable Development Limited, UK.

Gander, M. 1992. Domestic energy used by farmworkers living on commercial farmland in Natal and Transvaal. Report to the Department of Mineral and Energy Affairs, South Africa.

Gordon, S. B., Bruce, N. G., Grigg, J., Hibberd, P. L., Kurmi, P., Lam, K. H., Mortimer, K., Asante, K. P., Balakrishnan, K., Balmes, J., Bar-Zeev, N., Bates, M. N., Breysse, P. N., Buist, S., Chen, Z., Havens, D., Jack, D., Jindal, S., Kan, H., Mehta, S., Moschovis, P., Naeher, L., Patel, A., Perez-Padilla, R., Pope, D., Rylance, J., Semple, S., Martin II, W. J. 2014. Respiratory risks from household air pollution in low and middle income countries. The Lancet Respiratory Medicine Commission 2(10): 823–860.

Heltberg, R. 2003. Household fuel and energy use in developing countries: A multicounty study. World Bank, Washington DC, USA.

Hiemstra-von der Horst, G. and Hovorka, A. 2008. Reassessing the ‘energy ladder’: Household energy use in Maun, Botswana. Energy Policy 369: 3333–3344.

Honkalaskar, V.H., Bhandarkar, U.V., Sohoni, M. 2013. Development of a fuel efficient cookstove through a participatory bottom-up approach. Energy, Sustainability and Society 3(16): 1–21.

Hussain, S., Sanders, B., and Steinert, M. 2012. Participatory design with marginalized people in developing countries: challenges and opportunities experienced in a field study in Cambodia. International Journal of Design 62: 91–109.

Jagdish, K.S. 2004. The development and dissemination of efficient domestic cook stoves and other devices in Karnataka. Current Science 877: 926–931.

Koh, L.P. and Wilcove, D.S. 2008. Is oil palm agriculture really destroying tropical biodiversity? Conservation Letters 12: 60–64.

Manzini, E. and Rizzo, F. 2011. Small projects / large changes: Participatory design as an open participated process. Co-Design: International Journal of Co-Creation in Design and the Arts 73(4): 199–215.

Masekoameng, K. E., Similenga, T. E. and Saidi, T. 2005. Household energy needs and utilization patterns in the Giyani rural communities of Limpopo Province, South Africa. Journal of Energy in Southern Africa 16(3): 4–9.

Masera, O. R., Diaz, R. and Berrueta, V. 2005. From cookstoves to cooking systems: The integrated program on sustainable household energy use in Mexico. Energy for Sustainable Development 9(1): 25-36.

Montoya, D., Rogers, L. and Memmott, L. 2012. Emerging perspectives in the restoration of biodiversity-based ecosystem services. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 2712: 666–672.

Muller, C. and Yan, H. 2016. Household fuel use in developing countries: Review of theory and evidence. Online at Viewed May 2016.

Pope, C. A., Burnett, R. T., Thun, M. J., Calle, E. E., Krewski, D., Ito, K. and Thurston, G. D. 2002. Lung cancer, cardiopulmonary mortality and long-term exposure to fine particulate air pollution. Journal of the American Medical Association 287: 1132–1141.

Ramirez, S., Dwivedi, P., Bailis, R., Ghilardi, A. 2012. Perceptions of stakeholders about non-traditional cookstoves in Honduras. Environmental Research Letters 74: 2–11.

Sanchez, T. 2008. Lessons from project implementation on cook stoves and rural electrification, the practical action experience. Technical report, Practical Action, Warwickshire, UK.

Sanders, E.B.N. and Stappers, P.J. 2008. Co-creation and the new landscapes of design. Co-Design: International Journal of Co-Creation in Design and the Arts 41: 5–18.

Smith, K.R., Shuhua, G., Kun, H., and Daxiong, Q. 1993. One hundred million improved cookstoves in China: How was it done? World Development 216: 941–961.

Statistics South Africa 2011. Census 2011: General Household Survey, 2011. Online at Viewed April 2014.

Van Veggel, R. 2005. Where the two sides of ethnography collide. Design Issues 213: 3–16.

Wang, Z.A. and Cai, W.J. 2004. Carbon dioxide degassing and inorganic carbon export from a marsh-dominated estuary the Duplin River: A marsh CO2 pump. Limnology Oceanography 492: 341–354.

World Health Organisation. 2014. Burden of disease from household air pollution for 2012. The World Health Organisation. Geneva: Switzerland. Online at Viewed September 2015.

Yonemitsu, A., Njenga, M., Iiyama, M. and Matsushita, S. 2004. Household fuel consumption based on multiple fuel use strategies: A case study in Kibera slums. APCBEE Procedia 10: 331–340.




How to Cite

Makonese, T., & Bradnum, C. M. S. (2017). Public participation in technological innovation: The case of the Tshulu stove development programme. Journal of Energy in Southern Africa, 28(1), 13–24.