Rural Malawians are part of a 3 billion worldwide population exposed to toxic pollution and ill-health through cooking on open fires or inefficient cookstoves using biomass fuels. This burden is a significant challenge to health systems in low income countries. The Cooking and Pneumonia Study (CAPS) was a village-level randomised controlled trial of an advanced cookstove intervention recently completed in Malawi.
CAPS provided a unique opportunity to gain understanding about the social and cultural factors that may hinder or encourage use of advanced cookstoves and to explore gendered household dynamics and decision making in this context. A total of 50 participants from 5 representative CAPS villages participated in a Photovoice study in 2016. Images about cooking were collected over 5 days and discussed in village-level focus groups and in interviews.
This methodology facilitated an in-depth exploration of every-day priorities and decision making. The complexity of gendered household and community roles was illustrated through image collection and discussion and led to the development of a ‘picture’ of the socio-cultural context of adoption of the cookstove intervention. The expertise and autonomy of the photographers was also promoted.
Mice for Lunch
Photographer: Falesi Laiti
Mice for Lunch
Photographer: Enelesi Paulo
Family preparing a meal on an open fire
Photographer: Margret Falakeza
Maize is life
Photographer: Aines Banda