Today I went to a very interesting talk, presented by the UQ Energy Initiative, by Gautam Yadama.
He described the "Wicked problem" of the use of wood stoves by the rural poor in the Majority world.
This causes a multitude of problems including deforestation, climate change, household pollution, disability due to respiratory problems,…. Yet solutions are elusive, particularly because of poverty, cultural obstacles, gender inequality, technical problems, …. In particular, previous "top down" "solutions" such as the wide scale free distribution of 35 million gas stoves by the Indian government in the 70s and 80s [largely funded by the World Bank] have been complete failures. He described his multi-disciplinary research involving social scientists, engineers, and medical experts. Yadama emphasized the importance of community involvement and programs that are "evidence based" using randomised trials [similar to those featured in Poor Economics].
Yadama has just published a "coffee table" book Fires, Fuel, and the Fate of 3 Billion that describes the problem and features striking photos that capture some of the human dimension to the problem.