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close this book Boiling Point No. 06 - April 1984
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Consumption of Firewood in Rural Areas

A STUDY OF 6 VILLAGES IN NIGER AND MALI

F Bonnet-Madin, J Joffre, P Montagne and S Strasfogel of the Association Pour L'Arbre au Sahel

and Association Bois de Feu

This interesting article (Bois de Feu, 1980) set out what had been learnt about the consumption of fuel wood in 6 villages in the Sahel: in Mali, Kalumba and Keybane (divided into two tribal groups), in the Nara area, and in Niger, Dan Koulou, Serke Haoussa, and Magami in the Maradi area. Wood consumptions are quoted in Kg/day per person or family (of given family sizes) although they may be measured by volume elsewhere. Wood consumptions per head in the Sahel are said to be well known and not to vary very greatly but if these figures are averaged they may not be representative at regional levels and so the figures given should not be extrapolated.

METHODOLOGY

This was based on a questionnaire used by FAO in 1978. The villagers were asked not to change their fuel use habits during the study during which daily measurements were made of wood used per household in 30% of the families in the villages. Regrettably no practical information is given about how the measurements were made, how information was collected or the duration of the survey.

RESULTS

Some of the results are shown in the tables below.

FAMILY SIZE IN THE STUDY VILLAGES

VILLAGE

No. of Families studied

Total No. of persons

Average Family size

Kalumba

21

217

10.33

Keybane S

20

188

9.40

Keybane M

12

72

6.00

Dan Koulou

16

89

5.56

S Haoussa

17

119

7.00

Magami

18

156

8.67

 

WOOD CONSUMED FOR DOMESTIC COOKING

VILLAGE

Wood consumed

Wood consumed

 

kg/day/person

kg/day/family

Kalumba

1.52

15.70

Keybane S

1.35

12.70

Keybane M

1.28

7.68

Dan Koulou

1.22

6.78

S Haoussa

1.15

8.02

Magami

1.38

12.00

In addition to the total wood used annually for cooking, the villagers also used another 10% for heating and lighting (for 3 months of the year), and for special uses, such as festivities and cotton spinning.

Variations in consumption between villages were found to relate to availability of fuelwood depending on the surrounding vegetation. The situation of each village is reported, with species of trees, distances walked, duration and frequency of collection. It also tells for how many years there has been a wood fuel problem caused by increasing desertification. In some places, the women collect branches left on the ground by Nomads (broken off to provide leaves for goats), or left by their husbands when clearing land for cultivation, or when preparing fields for sowing after the rainy season.

The table overleaf compares the findings from the two locations.

COMPARISON BETWEEN THE TWO REGIONS

 

NARA (Mali)

MARADI (Niger)

Existence of a well defined collecting zone

YES

NO

Collection of wood:

   

- with a cart

YES (S*)

NO

 

NO (M*)

 

- carried out by -

children

women

 

and men

 

- time taken

10 hrs (S)

3 hours

 

4 hrs (M)

 

- distance covered

24 km (S)

4 & 5 km

 

8 km (M)

 

- traded

of little

of little

 

importance

importance

Use of wood:

   

- number of cooked meals per day

3

2

- cooking time

5 hours

3 hours

- cooking place

cooking hut

open air

Type of firewood:

dead trees

bushes, millet

   

stalks; cow

   

dung in DK*

Consumption:

1.28-1.52kg

1.15-1.78kg

 

/day/person

/day/person

*KEY

S = Soninke tribe (Kalumba and Keybane 5 villages)

M = Maudre tribe (Keybane M village)

DK = Dan Koulou village

 

CONCLUSIONS

In some cases, competition for firewood has caused trouble between women of neighbouring villages and the beginning of zones of recognised rights of collection. Consumption figures are said to be influenced by the presence or absence of wood for sale. The price in one village was one third of that in another.

It is suggested that in areas of fuel shortage, the villagers economise up to a certain point beyond which they cannot go. Conversely in less fuel short areas their consumption does not exceed a limit of 1.2 - 1.5 kg/day/head.

The final point made is that the data so far available is insufficient for forestry planning and so these surveys should be continued to cover all the ecological zones.

The full article is available (in French) from Association Bois de Feu, 73 Avenue Corot, 13013 MARSEILLE, France.