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The fuelwood crisis in southern Africa - relating fuelwood use to livelihoods in a rural village

Delali B.K. Dovie, E.T.F. Witkowski and Charlie M. Shackleton
GeoJournal
Vol. 60, No. 2 (2004), pp. 123-133
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41147872
Page Count: 11
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The fuelwood crisis in southern Africa - relating fuelwood use to livelihoods in a rural village
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Abstract

The aim of the paper is to examine wood as a source of fuel energy in rural South Africa and factors influencing its usage. The analysis is based on household profiles and characteristics (e.g., gender, caste, population and income) in a livelihood framework. Fuelwood consumption was estimated to be 692 kg/capita, and 4343 kg/user household per annum, valued at $311 per household. Consumption was modelled in relation to informal and formal cash incomes, and population of children, female and male adults. However, only the population of female adults could significantly influence consumption of fuelwood. This implied that where there were more women in a household, consumption was likely to be high. This might be due to the majority of women doing the cooking and heating in the household. Any change in the value of cash income of households had no significant impacts on fuelwood consumed. Cash incomes might therefore not be strong determinants of the types of energy used by rural households. The average quantity of wood consumed for fuel energy in summer was not significantly different from consumption in winter. Some households perpetually used more wood than others. The study further showed that harvesting of wood for fuel energy is not opportunistic, but requires reallocation of time for other livelihood activities in times of shortage. The fuelwood crisis is not simple and not only about shortage of fuelwood and/or population growth but linked to household profiles and other livelihood strategies and subsequently vulnerability of households. These would require thorough investigation and understanding in relation to precise demand and supply data for fuelwood before the fuelwood problem can be sufficiently managed.

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