Fuel-efficient stoves for Darfur: The social construction of subsistence marketplaces in post-conflict settings

Samer Abdelnour*, Oana Branzei

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper explores the development of market roles and transactions in fuel-efficient stoves in Darfur from 1997 to 2008 as a grounded example of how subsistence markets are socially constructed in post-conflict settings. Using a combination of archival texts, interviews, and real-time discourses by protagonists, this study explains the who, what, why and how of emergent marketplaces by showing how development interventions come to imbue market participants and transactions with socially (re)constructed meanings. The fitful emergence of subsistence marketplaces for fuel-efficient in Darfur is punctuated by development interventions which at times under- or misrepresent market participants and by successes and failures in bringing together trainers, producers, sellers, consumers and users of fuel-efficient stoves. Subsidies and handouts delay and distort the emergence of grassroots demand, choices, and prices; a plurality of competing development interventions re-shape the supply. By the end of 2008, the subsistence market for fuel-efficient stoves catches momentum, engaging over 52% of the Darfuri communities in market transactions for the product. As market participants gain voice and influence they reshape the market to favour mud stoves over metal stoves. Reports by several development organizations suggest that among fuel-efficient stove users, 90% use mud models, and 49% of women who own both mud and metal stoves prefer mud stoves.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)617-629
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Business Research
Issue number6
Early online date14 Jul 2009
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010


  • subsistence marketplaces
  • critical discourse analysis
  • development interventions


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