By Mauri Yambo
There is evidence to suggest that a good number of scientists working on energy do recognize, perhaps increasingly, that social factors play a crucial role in any successful development and diffusion of new wood/charcoal stoves. Consequently, if there is one major stumbling block to the development and diffusion of new stoves, it is likely to be not so much the failure to acknowledge the significance of socio-economic factors in the endeavour, as the apparent inability to bridge the gap between theory and practice. In this paper, some suggestions are made on how the said gap can be bridged sufficiently to make a difference in both the substance and style of prototype development. In addition, the theoretical underpinnings of technology development and diffusion are briefly discussed.
It is argued that a major prerequisite for the development of a new stove is the creation of an organic linkage between potential users and the Research and Development (R&D) “labs” involved in designing and field-testing the prototypes; and between the “labs” and petty manufacturers. It is argued, furthermore, that the mass media, particularly the radio, and other interpersonal contacts offer greater possibilities than extension agents per se for the diffusion both of the message about a new technology and of the technology itself. It is recognized that advertising and publicity are no substitute for actual adoption. For it to stand any good chance of adoption, a new stove must be easily available, affordable and responsive to the changing needs and demands of the users.
[Published in African Journal of Sociology, Vol. II, No. 2, November 1982, pp. 159-185]