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close this book Boiling Point No. 15 - April 1991
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Fuelwood Stoves in Zanzibar

Extracts from "Fuelwood demand in Zanzibar town and the implications of Forestry Policy". by Rashid Said Masoud, University of Norway, June 1990

Zanzibar, which consists of two Islands (Unguja and Pemba) is part of the United Republic of Tanzania. With a population and growth rate of 3% per annum, Zanzibar is already experiencing a high population pressure on her limited land and forest resources.

Zanzibar town is situated on the western coast of Unguja island. The town has a population of about 157,634 or 42 % of the island's population. This study tries to assess woodfuel demand in the town and examines the causes of the demand and the implications for forestry policy.

Fuelwood is the principal energy source for cooking and heating in Zanzibar town, both for the household sector and for institutions. The bulk of it is used by the hold sector. Firewood is the most popular fuel in the town, used by the majority of the low and middle incomes as well as some high income households. Charcoal is commonly used by the high income category and by the better off among the middle income households. Coconut residues play a considerable role in the household energy economy, and are frequently used to supplement firewood. In general, multi-fuel use is the most common energy use strategy in the household sector. The per capita fuel consumption in the town in 1989 was estimated to be 304 kg/annum, 47 kg/annum, 60 kg/annum and 3 litre/annum for firewood, charcoal, coconut residues and kerosene respectively.


It is indeed a paradox in Zanzibar town that electricity, which is the cheapest fuel in relative terms, is not accessible to the poor because it is too expensive in terms of the capital and installation costs of the equipment needed to use it. The use of kerosene for cooking in addition to lighting is ruled out by the world market position.

Firewood and charcoal were found to be important commodities in the island. Their extraction is a quick cash generating activity in the rural areas. Their transport and trade create good profit margins for transport owners and traders. Their prices grow fester then real wages, causing energy hardship for the urban poor.

Shifting cultivation and the urban fuelwood demand were identified as the major causes of deforestation in the island. The increasing demand for fuelwood in the town and rapid population growth will exert more pressure on the limited forest resource for food and cash needs. If corrective measures are not implemented soon, the impacts will lead to land degradation, which means failure of agricultural crop production and hence increased rural poverty.

Improved Stoves

Two women in the hinterland of Zanzibar town, who have already adopted fuel efficient stoves constructed on the kitchen site, reported that they were satisfied with the new cooking stoves introduced by the forestry extension services.

The main lesson we have learned from the users with improved stoves are: the design should match the wide range of fuelwood and coconut residues, in other words, flexibility in fuel use. Secondly, for the purpose of convenience the new stove should be big and have sufficient room and ventilation for the smoke to escape easily. Thirdly, it is important that suitable construction materials are found.

We still have much to learn from the users of the new stove, both fixed and portable types. As Allen (1989) suggested, the whole production, extension and dissemination processes should be developed on the ground, and tailored to the prevailing conditions of the target area house through an extensive pilot phase.