Shamba Chef is an edutainment reality television show in Kenya designed to promote the adoption of cleaner and more efficient cooking methods, as well as to explore the culture of food and improve family nutrition. In Kenya, eight out of ten people cook with heavily-polluting solid fuels like wood and charcoal, causing widespread environmental and health impacts that disproportionately affect women and children. Although many cleaner cooking options exist, from improved charcoal stoves to clean burning fuels like liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), many people are not aware of these options or have not prioritised them. The series was therefore created with support from the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves as part of an effort to use communication to motivate households to purchase and adopt cleaner cooking solutions. Launched in September 2017, the television series is produced by The Mediae Company and also includes complementary radio and digital media content, as well as community outreach.

Communication Strategies: 

The show is hosted by two presenters, who travel across Kenya, meeting families and discussing the challenges and problems that are common to kitchens throughout the country. With the help of a team of experts, they offer practical solutions to improving the cooking experience - making it cleaner, quicker, safer, and at half the cost. Each episode boils down to the makeover of a kitchen and the introduction of a cleaner, improved cooking solution that is best suited to the family’s access to fuel and their typical cooking practice.

In addition, the series features popular Kenyan chefs, who showcase cultural food preferences from different regions and share creative tips on how to cook tasty and nutritious meals from locally available food. Nutritional experts are also invited to explain the benefits of a well-balanced diet and how to maximise the health benefits from food grown in ones own kitchen garden.

The show is aired in Kiswahili (Sundays 1:30pm) and English (Thursdays 1:30pm) on Citizen TV, a station with the highest penetration of TV watching in Kenya’s rural areas. Audience numbers have peaked at 2 million and the average audience is 1.5 million households per episode (as of November 2017).

Each episode has been adapted for a weekly radio series in Swahili, airing on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 8:30pm on Citizen Radio. A free mobile-based platform called iChef gives subscribers access to additional content, including nutritious recipes and cooking tips. This has been very successful with close to 30,000 SMS received over the first 10 weeks of the series being on air.

The Shamba Chef website also features information about each episode, as well as other resources such as leaflets that offer more information on the recipes, nutrition advice, and cleaner cookstoves options shared on the programme. The Shamba Chef Facebook page also offers information about the show and allows interaction with the audience. The website has had over 13,000 unique users and the Facebook page over 2,000 followers (as of November 2017). 

Shamba Chef is complemented by an Alliance-supported community outreach intervention, led by Population Services (PS) Kenya in 17 counties in Central and Western Kenya, called Upishi Digi. PS Kenya is working with community-based organisations to conduct door-to-door and small group communication on the benefits of clean cooking, as well as market events and cooking demonstrations. For this programme component, Mediae and PS Kenya were awarded support via the Alliance’s Clean Cooking Behaviour Change Communication (BCC) Fund - a portfolio of grants aimed at scaling demand and use of clean cooking solutions.

Partners in the nutrition sector linked to health and agriculture wishing to scale out their development activities, and to support this project by providing relevant experience and content, can fund a strand featuring their experts and content.   The cost of funding includes:

  • Development of stories and information leaflets using partner content with production teams
  • Filming of partner’s experts demonstrating the technology/topic in homes in Kenya
  • Access to the Shamba Chef SMS database and social media during broadcast for interaction and research
  • All print and postage costs for Shamba Chef leaflet distribution
  • Broadcast of the series, including featuring partner logos at the beginning and end of each episode
  • Access to all pre and post-broadcast research into knowledge, attitudes and practices of the audience for the series
  • Use of all clips filmed of partner content
  • DVDs and leaflets of the series for onward use

For more information, contact or

Development Issues: 

Health and Environment

Key Points: 

Millions of households across East Africa still cook over open fires or use inefficient charcoal stoves on a daily basis. The cost to families is significant, with the average Kenyan family spending almost one-third of their income on fuel. In rural areas, several hours per day are spent collecting firewood, and smoke inhalation causes serious health risks, with acute respiratory illnesses (ARIs) the second-leading cause of death in Kenya.

The initiative conducted research, which showed that 80% of the targeted population regularly watch television and listen to the radio.

Background information on organisastions involved:
The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves is a public-private partnership hosted by the United Nations Foundation that seeks to save lives, improve livelihoods, empower women, and protect the environment by creating a thriving global market for clean and efficient household cooking solutions. The Alliance’s 100 by ’20 goal calls for 100 million households to adopt cleaner and more efficient cookstoves and fuels by 2020. The Alliance is working with its public, private, and non-profit partners to accelerate the production, deployment, and use of clean cookstoves and fuels in developing countries.

The Mediae Company is a producer of entertaining and educational media that promote changes in knowledge, attitudes and practices amongst East African audiences. Mediae produces several other popular shows in Kenya, including East Africa’s leading agricultural TV program, Shamba Shape Up, which is now in its 7th season and reaches up to 3 million viewers weekly.

Population Services Kenya (PS Kenya) is Kenya’s largest BCC/social marketing organisation and has 25 years’ experience of developing and implementing large-scale campaigns in health. They address the most serious health challenges affecting resource-poor and vulnerable communities in Kenya, including HIV/AIDS, reproductive health and family planning, and the greatest threats to children under five including malaria, diarrhoea, pneumonia, and malnutrition.

Partner Text: 

Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, The Mediae Company, and PS Kenya.

See video

Shambe Chef website and Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves website on September 27 2017, and information received from Kate Lloyd Morgan on November 28 2017.