| Boiling Point No. 13 - August 1987 |
By Stuart Marwick, WSG: Woodenergy Systems Group, The Netherlands.
Uganda could be launching the most comprehensively-planned and co-ordinated woodfuel conservation programme yet seen in Africa if the recommendations of a recent mission report are successfully implemented. A joint WSG-KENGO* advisor team working with Ugandans from government and NGOs has just formulated the country's first National Wood Energy Conservation Strategy for the Ministry of Energy.
The proposed strategy set national targets of 2.45 million improved stoves to be in place in Ugandan rural and urban households and institutional kitchens by the year 2000. Charcoal and fuelwood end-use efficiency targets are set for a . 45% and 30% improvement, respectively.
Is there a wood energy crisis in Uganda? It is evident to every Ugandan that there are shortages of fuel and that trees and forests are rapidly disappearing. But what are the actual dimensions of these problems?
Not a great deal of precise information has been gathered yet. But the experiences of local people and the available expert opinions in Uganda make it clear that, like so many other African countries, Uganda is in the familiar pattern of rural and urban wood and charcoal scarcity and environmental degradation in which women literally and figuratively carry the load.
"In 1986, consumption of fuelwood in Uganda was estimated to be about 17% above sustainable yield". (1986 World Bank Report)
"Population is growing at about 3.3% and will likely reach 26 million by the year 2000". (World Development Report, The World Bank, 1986)
What has been done about wood energy in Uganda so far? Various initiatives to address Uganda's deteriorating wood energy situation have been taken during recent years by government, NGOs and private sector organisations. Some examples:
- Many organisations are planning or implementing local tree-planting projects and some national reafforestation projects are planned by the Forest Department and CARE with the World Bank.
- The YWCA has been teaching women how to build improved mud cookstoves, 'fireless' haybox cookers and other fuel-savers.
- Enterprises such as Black Power and Usika Crafts have been designing and producing prototype improved cookstoves made of metal and ceramic clay.
- Other non-governmental organisations are getting involved in awareness-creation and other projects through JEEP.
- Some agro-industries such as tobacco are planning improved drying systems to conserve woodfuel.
- Some wood and charcoal sellers and informal sector stovemakers have formed co-ops to help them to improve their goods and services.
- A major coffee co-op is manufacturing charcoal briquettes made from coffee husks.
- Journalists in print, radio and TV are doing more stories on wood energy;
- and there are many other small and not-so-small activities underway in many parts of the country.
Creating the Ministry of Energy (MOE) in 1986 provided a needed focal point for all energy planning and the potential to improve co-ordination of such initiatives. In September 1986, Ugandans attending the KENGO Regional Stoves Workshop in Nairobi discussed ideas with WSG, JEEP and KENGO* which led to MOE sponsorship of the first Uganda National Stoves Workshop.
Recommendations (Approved by the Ministry of Energy in April 87)
There are three basic options for improving wood energy. One, SUPPLY (increase wood energy by tree planting); Two, SAVE (decrease demand by wood energy conservation); and three, SWITCH (use alternative and commercial fuels). The Report says, "A good national strategy balances these three basic options to ensure future supplies of wood energy through programmes for sustainable supply and reduction of waste while protecting the environment."
The first option is extensively dealt with in a 1986 World Bank feasibility study and therefore not in the mission report. The third has not been much studied yet.
The Report focusses on option two: increasing the efficiency of wood energy use through demand management and Wood Energy Conservation strategies. It proposes "The 1 PLUS 5 Programme" wood energy conservation strategy for Uganda, symbolised in the form of a tree in which the basic stem is a National Awareness and Education Programme serving integrated Conservation and Supply Programmes (5 branches).
The programmes and general aims are:
1. THE NATIONAL EDUCATION AWARENESS PROGRAMME. NEAP would promote awareness of conservation alternatives for all wood and charcoal energy end users in households, institutions and industries; promote kitchen energy management education, especially among women, who account for some 82% of all woodfuel use.
2. THE NATIONAL IMPROVED STOVE PROGRAMME. NISP would reduce the wood and charcoal used in rural and urban household and institutional cooking by improving both cookstoves and kitchen energy management.
3. WOODBURNING INDUSTRIES SAVING ENERGY. WISE would improve the efficiency of primary and secondary industries which consume fuelwood and charcoal.. such as tobacco and tea-drying, brick making and others.
4. THE NATIONAL IMPROVED CHARCOAL PROGRAMME. NIC would increase the efficiency of charcoal production, particularly in the informal sector, and reduce illegal production and export... a profitable activity in Uganda.
5. THE NATIONAL ALTERNATIVE AND RESIDUE FUELS PROGRAMME: NARF would increase the production of briquetted fuel produced from wastes of forest and agro-industries including workshops, factories, plants and sawmills dealing with papa, printing, carpentry, furniture, timber or processing coffee, sugar, rice and other grains. Recommended for review are energy from urban waste, energy technologies like solar, biogas and the prospects for increased use of electricity, especially in urban areas.
* Woodburning Stove Group (now called Woodenergy Systems Group), based in Holland; Uganda's Joint Energy and Environment Projects and Kenya Energy NGO's Association, both 'umbrella' NGO groups.
The WSG has since been asked by the Ministry of Energy to continue to advise the Government on the whole range of programme development.
This is an ambitious programme and could have a real effect on wood fuel consumption in a country where the deforestation is not yet out of control. It will need long term political and administrative stability if it is to succeed.