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Diffusion of Sustainable Innovations

Improving Rural Livelihoods through the Diffusion of Sustainable Innovations

Can market-oriented approaches be a pathway to improve rural livelihoods?

Despite market-oriented approaches being promoted in numerous sectors and settings in the global South, much is still unknown about their effectiveness for both larger scale and longer-term poverty alleviation and sustainable development efforts. This LUCID research domain contributes to decreasing these knowledge gaps  by examining the potentials and challenges in the sale of sustainable innovations to rural smallholders in Africa, and the specific and longer-term challenges in both out-scaling (e.g., new regions) and up-scaling (e.g., new technologies, diffusion models) efforts. The research lays the ground for longer-term studies on the understanding innovation diffusion processes, and the characteristics that allow them to self-perpetuate. More specifically, research concentrates on understanding the on-going experiences of an entrepreneur to both sell and finance smoke-free kitchens (i.e., improves stoves) and rooftop water harvesting and storage systems in Nyanza Province in western Kenya. Emphases are placed on the understanding and creating targeted solutions to overcome the main impediments in the numerous developmental phases in the process including poor infrastructural development, competition with aid programs, and poor loan repayment rates.

 A pathway out of poverty?

This film focuses on the early successes of the diffusion of cook stoves and rainwater harvesting systems, and the main challenges with sustaining the initiative.

The film is made by Ann Åkerman and Barry Ness, LUCSUS.

 Smokeless Stove

This film presents the introduction of improved cook stoves. The smokeless stoves address multiple sustainability challenges:
• Climate change
• Deforestation/Land use change
• Poverty alleviation (time and money savings)
• Ill-health (indoor air pollution)

The film is made by Henrik Thorén, LUCID, (Lund University Centre of Excellence for Integration
of Social and Natural Dimensions of Sustainability), and Ann Åkerman, LUCSUS.


Ness, B. & Åkerman, A. (2015) Sustainable development through innovation diffusion via entrepreneur in rural western Kenya: progress and related challenges. Sustainability: Science, Policy & Practice. 15(1):53-63.

Ness, B. & Åkerman, A. (2013) Publishing sustainability research visually: A film about the opportunities and challenges of a rural entrepreneurship initiative in Kenya. Challenges in Sustainability. 1(2):80-81.

Jerneck, A. and L. Olsson (2013) A smoke-free kitchen: initiating community based co-production for cleaner cooking and cuts in carbon emission. Journal of Cleaner Production, Volume 60:208-215.