The Role of Namibian Youth in the Advancement of Sustainable Energy
Lindgren, Samantha Anne
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Across low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), 3.1 billion people cook and heat their homes by burning solid fuels such as firewood, charcoal, and crop and animal waste , . Approximately 80% of rural communities in LMICs rely on biomass  for their energy needs. The emissions from these fires, including carbon monoxide and particulate matter, result in household air pollution (HAP) that cause both acute and chronic illnesses leading to nearly three million premature deaths each year –, and are a leading producer of black carbon emissions, a key climate-forcing agent . Efficient, or improved, cookstoves are an energy solution often advanced in international development. Since the first wave of cookstove dissemination programs, little has changed in terms of the objectives and methods of the research being done. Low adoption rates have persisted , in part due to the behavior changes needed to use the stoves. Typically, activities to train and improve uptake rates are aimed at adult women, the primary stakeholder of cookstoves. Adults have fully formed habits and behaviors that are rooted in culture and tradition. Children are the current and future users of cookstoves. Global consumer research indicates that youth are more likely to be early adopters of new technology , and exert some influence in the family decision-making process –. This research project builds upon existing cookstove adoption research and uses Education for Sustainable Development  as a framework for examinig youth as agents of change in efficient cookstoves and fuels uptake in rural Namibia. Conducted in collaboration with the Namib Desert Environmental Education Trust (NaDEET), an ESD-focused NGO located in the rural Hardap, Namibia’s poorest region , this fellowship funded two distinct but related studies. The first was a stratified survey of two rural Hardap communities, one with a history of sending school groups annually to NaDEET’s camp program, the other without. One hundred households were surveyed in each community. The second study surveyed nearly 1000 Namibian school children in grades 5-10, half of which attended NaDEET’s camp in 2019. The other half were from the same schools, a grade younger, serving as a control group. All camp participants prepare their meals using improved cookstove and solar cookers, neither are common in the Hardap. This research sought to answer the following questions, How do children’s knowledge and attitudes about new cooking technologies, such as improved cookstoves and solar cookers, impact their parents’ knowledge, attitudes, and decisions to adopt these technologies? How does informal Education for Sustainable Development affect the development of children’s knowledge and attitudes about household energy and sustainability?