| Boiling Point No. 25 - August 1991 |
Are World Bank Stoves Initiatives Effective?
Reproduced from RWEPA News, KENGO, No. 5, January 1991
The World Bank has been working in improved stoves for a number of years now. In particular, the Bank has worked in Burundi, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia in the recent past. However, many improved stove experts feel that the World Bank initiatives are not as effective as they should be.
Several reasons have been put forward for the apparent lack of success of World Bank projects. One of these appears to be the slow rate at which the Bank reacts to changes in the field or on the ground. Another is the reluctance by the Bank's stove experts to accept the fact that they do not know everything. The Bank's love of Iengthy and complicated data collection exercises also contributes to its lack of success.
Some examples can be quoted here. In 1988, the Bank carried out a one-year survey on household energy in Zambia. To date, the results of this survey have not been published. By the time the report appears it will be too late to be put to any good use. The same can be said of the Household Energy Planning Project (HEPP) work that was carried out in Uganda with funding from the Bank in 1989.
In Burundi and Rwanda, the Bank's stove experts have adamantly refused to accept the feet that the improved stove they have been trying to introduce since 1986 is a failure. The stove is too complicated for the artisans to make and it uses much more material than the traditional stove. Therefore, in spite of the heavy marketing that the Bank has carried out in these two countries, improved stoves have not taken off. And yet according to a project officer working on improved stoves in Burundi, World Bank officials frown on any contact between stove programmes in Burundi and those in other countries.
It should be stated here that some World Bank projects have had some success. We have in mind the projects in Malawi and Tanzania. The reason for this seems to be the fact the Bank used a well-known stove expert from the east and southern Africa region who knows his subject well. Most important, the Bank did not indulge in their usual long surveys in these countries.
It is suggested here that future World Bank household energy activities, if there are any, should utilize the knowledge that is already available, instead of carrying out more surveys. Further, the Bank should use local experts who understand the local household energy situation. The Bank should also work out ways of using local NGOs for some of their work. As it is at the moment, the tendency has been to use government agencies, whose bureaucratic inertia is legendary.
The following letter from Keith Openhsaw and Robert van der Plas of the World Bank was printed in RWEPA News No. 6 April I 991.
It is important to have a regional publication such as RWEPA NEWS to exchange ideas and promote cross fertilization regarding energy issues among African countries. However, for such a publication to be effective, it needs to be as reliable, objective, and accurate as possible. From reading the last few RWEPA NEWS issues, it seems that these criteria are not really met.
The RWEPA and/or KENGO group actually appears to be slightly biased in its approach to disseminating information regarding ongoing activities in the Eastern and Southern parts of Africa. To mention just a few examples, when discussing the briquetting experience in Sudan in one of the RWEPA NEWS issues, the most promising technique was left out (agglomeration of carbonized cotton stalks, a technique which does not require a high financial investment and which at present is being picked up rapidly by the private sector in Sudan). You knew about this discussion because of your discussions with Dr Hood, but apparently decided not to present this information.
Another example is the stove programme in Burundi, which was visited by a team of KENGO/RWEPA specialists at the end of 1988. The message the KENGO/ RWEPA team brought across was that the project was doing it all wrong and should adopt the Jiko as soon as possible (despite the number of stoves already sold and households' appreciation of that stove model). The team went back to Kenya to write the final report and the Burundian project personnel had to learn about their report through your list of publications: they were never shown a draft of the document to provide their comments before you published it.
You say that the Bank's stove projects in Malawi and in Tanzania are a success because a regional stove expert was used. We may add that you consider it a success because the type of stove promoted was the Kenyan Improved Jiko. Please remember the 1988 ERC/KENGO regional workshop on the commercialization of improved cookstoves (Khartoum) which concluded that there are more good stoves than just the Jiko. Also above all one has to listen to the consumer/user who will tell you which is a good stove and which is not. In most of the countries where you are active you are doing just the opposite by strongly and solely promoting the Improved Jiko and suppressing the dissemination of information about successes with other stoves.
Take Rwanda, for instance, where you acknowledge the Jiko stove experience which failed in more than a few ways while you ignored the overwhelming success of the Rondereza stove. In more than one RWEPA NEWS you talked about Rwanda and its miserable experience with improved stoves, which is true if you only consider the Jiko stove (Canamake as it is called in Rwanda). However, in comparative tests, households preferred the Rondereza (which, by the way, was entirely made by Rwandans and not by foreign experts). Project management decided to finish their involvement in the project because the private sector had already taken over most of the project activities. That this decision was justified is best shown by the increasing monthly Rondereza sales by the private sector.
RWEPA is offering a Regional Training Course on Biomass Energy Development and the first item on the curriculum is Energy, Planning and Development issues. Before meaningful planning can be carried out, the energy supply/demand situation must be ascertained and, unfortunately for biomass energy, this involves biomass measurements and end-use surveys which take time and effort but are necessary if proper planning and strategy work is to be done.
You state that future World Bank household energy activities should utilize knowledge already available instead of carrying out more surveys. We do not carry out surveys if there is sufficient and accurate data available and to suggest this is ingenuous.
The following comments on energy policies are extracts from the "World Bank Watch" newsletter of November 1990.
Comments on ESMAP Policy
At a time when the World Bank is doling out almost $4 billion a year in energy loans, share-holding countries are questioning how well their money is being spent in a special programme designed to promote conservation and efficient management of utilities in developing countries.
The issue was raised November 12th to 15th 1990 in Paris, where key bilateral aid agencies met with the Bank to review and set changes in its Energy Sector Management Assistance Programme, a roughly $20 million-a-year programme that frequently hires consultants to advise Bank borrowers on energy policy.
Founded in 1983, ESMAP is jointly sponsored by the Bank and the United Nations Development Programme with each putting up 20% of ESMAP's budget. The rest comes from selected bilaterals, led by Canada and the Netherlands, which have hoped the programme would give them additional influence over the formulation of the Bank's energy policy. The US only decided to join ESMAP this year, the Agency for International Development officials said, after it was able to secure important organizational changes.
ESMAP's mission is to strengthen developing countries' energy sectors. which require an estimated $85 billion year in financing. But though it has spent $80 million since 1983 and maintains a full time staff of 103 at the Bank, many analysts say it has had only limited success at sparking change.
A key problem, according to the report of an independent ESMAP review commission chaired by Bank senior vice president Wilfried Thalwitz, is that 91% of the $9 billion in 'high priority investments' recommended in ESMAP's country studies have never gotten off the ground.
'This, even allowing for lags in securing finance, appears to the commission to be a low ratio given the financial outlay and staff time expended,' states the report, which outlines 14 ways to improve ESMAP. It sees 'by far the most disappointing results' in Africa, where 49% of ESMAP's 300 studies have been done and 65% of its project proposals are unfunded.
The basic ideas behind ESMAP, though, are well received. A greater emphasis on energy efficiency has long been recommended by environmentalists who think the Bank has erred by funding inefficient large-scale power plants in developing countries that lack tight regulation. Donors clearly want it to work better, as shown by steps they are taking to raise its annual budget to nearly $30 million.
"They tend to do a lot of things by the commando approach - they come in for two weeks, write up studies and leave," said Umana, now vice president of the Centro del Estudios Ambiental in San Jose and a board member of the World Resources Institute in Washington. 'I don't think that's the best way to work in a country. It doesn't do much to build up local capacity .'Peter Lammers of the Dutch aid agency proposes:
- targeting more work in fewer countries
- increasing donor supervision through a consultative group format modelled on the successful one the Bank already chairs for international agricultural research, including the addition of five Third World representatives and five independent advisors to watch over ESMAP.
"I hope and I feel ESMAP can be strengthened, but how it all comes out we'll have to see," Lammers (Dutch aid agency) said. 'It's the largest group assembled in one organization working on energy in development - not just supplying electricity, but really getting to the root of the problem.'