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close this bookEnergy Survey Methodologies for Developing Countries (BOSTID, 1980)
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Open this folder and view contentsWorking group reports
Open this folder and view contentsDirectory of energy surveys for developing countries
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Conclusions and Recommendations

During this workshop, four working groups discussed past experience with and the special needs of energy surveys in rural areas, urban areas, and the transportation and industrial sectors of national economies. The reports of those working groups follow this section. A number of common conclusions and recommendations were generated within the working groups as well as within the plenary sessions. They are presented here as summarized during the closing plenary session by workshop chairman Philip F. Palmedo.

THE NEED FOR AND ROLE OF SURVEYS

The need for energy surveys (the acquisition of primary information on energy consumption) and their importance stem from two basic facts: (1) the seriousness and urgency of the energy problems facing developing countries, and (2) a lack of information on which solutions to those problems can be based. The lack of basic information spans all uses and sectors of energy consumption, including the use of traditional or noncommercial fuels in rural areas and the direct consumption of fuels in the modern sector, including industry. The role of energy surveys, therefore, is to provide a firm information base for analyzing energy decisions and. ultimately, for improving those decisions. Of course, a wide variety of decisions must be made in the energy sector, ranging from very specific decisions on the siting or implementation of a project in a particular area to broad issues of national energy strategy such as the reduction of oil imports.

PRECONDITIONS FOR SUCCESSFUL ENERGY SURVEYS

Two preconditions can be identified for the successful operation of energy surveys that serve national and local energy planning needs. First, government institutions at the local or national level must perceive energy problems properly. If national energy problems, for example, are not construed correctly, information will not be gathered on the right issues and phenomena. Thus in many cases a broad energy assessment aimed at identifying energy problems of greatest concern will be necessary. Second, the ultimate effectiveness of a survey depends on the existence of an institution that can absorb the results of the survey and use those results to formulate and carry out energy decisions.

Thus if surveys must be designed to serve energy decisions, they should be designed and directed by the government agency that eventually needs the information. At the same time, energy is not a simple entity and energy problems that might be dealt with by an energy ministry or commission often require an interaction with ministries and agencies in associated areas such as transportation, rural development, or industry.

THE DIVERSITY OF SURVEY NEEDS AND APPROACHES

Energy issues and problems of a country come in many forms. If surveys are to fulfill their role in supporting energy decisions, they must have a similar diversity. Some will be directed to a particular immediate decision; others will be undirected or more properly directed to a broader range of policy concerns. Even the longer-term systematic collection of energy information (which could be included in national census activities) should anticipate the kinds of energy issues and problems that may arise over the long term.

Choices among the diverse means of collecting information, ranging from highly localized, project-oriented data collection efforts to the use of previous surveys, depend very strongly on the immediate and future needs for information. Despite the urgency of many energy problems and the natural tendency to focus on immediate project and planning needs, due consideration should be given to long-term policy making and planning needs, which may be served by more general information-gathering efforts and approaches that combine energy with other data needs.

SURVEY METHODS

The workshop concluded that, for the most part, there are no general survey methods or approaches that are universally applicable. A partial exception to that conclusion may be the industrial sector for which, at least in countries with fairly advanced industrial activities, an established survey methodology could have general relevance. Generally, however, surveys must be designed for local situations and for the specific policy needs of a country. Nevertheless, a great deal can be learned from the survey experience of other regions and countries, particularly other developing countries.

SURVEYS AND ANALYSES

Energy decisions are not assisted directly by undigested information, but rather by an analysis using that information. The type of information and its accuracy will be determined not only by the policy issues, but also by the analytical approach. For example, if one is concerned with projecting future energy demand in a sector using econometric methods based on historical trends, then clearly time-series information must be gathered. Other types of energy projection methodologies, which do not depend on historical time series, but rather on the future growth of underlying determinants of demand and on engineering analyses, will not require that kind of information.

FLEXIBILITY AND RESPONSIBILITY IN PERFORMING SURVEYS

Given the concept that surveys and associated analyses serve decision making, surveys should be designed and carried out in as flexible a manner as possible. For example, during the course of an energy survey in Burundi (See Appendix A, "Energy Surveys in Urban Areas: Experiences in Burundi and Cameroon" by E. Mbi) a possible solution to the initial fuelwood problem was uncovered, namely, the use of peat in a modified wood stove. It was possible to adjust the survey in midstream to gather more information on this option so that a more substantial conclusion could be reached at the end of the survey than would have been otherwise possible.

This flexibility is only possible if a mechanical survey approach is avoided and if those who understand the basic policy issues and analytical approaches are continuously involved in carrying out the survey' Thus data gathering and analysis, an integral part of energy planning, must be carried out on a continuing and flexible basis and must represent domestic capability. This is particularly important in rural areas. The participation of local people has been emphasized in this workshop; local capabilities should be built at various levels to gather energy information.

ASSOCIATED INFORMATION

Energy is never an end in itself; it is always one element in a more basic production process or function in society. In most energy decisions, there is a trade-off between energy and other elements, whether this is in a rural setting where energy in the form of fuelwood or agricultural wastes is one element in a complex rural resource base, or in industry where energy is one factor of production along with capital, labor, and other resources. Thus when gathering information on energy, one must be sure that the associated important information is either available or gathered along with the energy information. This requirement is particularly important and particularly complex in rural energy surveys because of the intimate role that energy plays in meeting basic human needs. The need to gather information that is associated with the basic energy data could mean including energy in broader information-gathering efforts, at the local or national level.

DIVERSITY OF SOURCES OF INFORMATION

We have spoken about surveys in terms of gathering primary energy information. At the same time, secondary sources of energy information are usually diverse, rich, and often overlooked. These sources include national census data, tax records, agricultural surveys, records of imports and exports, transportation surveys, etc. These secondary sources of information should be thoroughly explored before the expense of a primary data collection effort is undertaken. Secondary sources should be critically evaluated, however, since they often reflect data-gathering efforts that were carried out before energy was considered an important national concern. The existence of multiple sources of information can be useful to verify an energy information base.

IMPLICATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

A number of implications regarding energy assistance activities can be drawn from the above series of conclusions.

· The concept that energy surveys serve analysis and policy making implies that survey priorities must be based on national energy needs. These should be determined at the country level and not by preconceptions on the part of assistance agencies.
· The importance of surveys and the need for indigenous capabilities emphasize the value of technical advice at the design and analysis levels of surveys or of financial support for practical training, which can be carried out by the local survey supervisors.
· There is a strong need to strengthen the transfer of information and experience among developing countries. Support is needed for centralized channels of information exchange, both on data and on survey methodologies. It would be unwise to rely on a single clearinghouse for information of this type, and multiple channels of information exchange, both regional and international, would be helpful. Regional information transfer can be particularly useful and warrants increased financial support.
· Finally, a high overall priority should be given to assistance in information gathering and associated analysis. This recommendation is based on three fundamental factors. First, as widely recognized, the energy problems presently confronting developing countries are critical in terms of continued economic and social development. Second, energy decisions to be made in the coming months and years will have a major impact and both the opportunity costs and the financial costs of bad decisions can be high. Third, in contrast to the cost of faulty decisions, the cost of improving decisions through better information and analysis is very small. Therefore, the potential benefit of assistance efforts in the areas of information gathering and analysis are great and should be given high priority in the international energy assistance efforts for developing countries.