|Boiling Point No. 06 - April 1984 (ITDG, 1984, 20 p.)|
UNICEF AND THE HOUSEHOLD FUELS CRISIS
by Erik Eckholm
June 1982, 47 pages, available from local UNICEF offices, or from UNICEF, 866 UN Plaza, New York, NY 10017, USA.
This UNICEF booklet makes a fairly short, clear, non technical statement of Third World household fuel and energy problems. It deals with energy needs and uses particularly for cooking; and energy sources, particularly wood lot forestry and biogas. It reviews recent work on improved cooking stoves and their promotion and gives some reasons for their limited success and better prospects for the future. It describes ITDG's recommended stove programme design strategy and refers to its consultancy capacity, and locks at the work of other agencies, particularly UN. m e booklet seems to be aimed mainly at UNICEF staff, emphasizing UNICEF's concern for the Third World housewife and her kitchen, and suggests possible UNICEF contributions and activities, and recommends greater involvement with work on wood stoves and also on alternative energy for other purposes. It deserves careful reading by all Third World stove programme directors.
IMPROVED COOKING STOVES IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
by Gerald Foley and Patricia Moss
Technical Report No 2, Energy Information Programme, Earthscan, International Institute for Environment and Development, 10 Percy Street, London, W1P 0DR, price £10.00, plus P & P. (Also available from IT Publications, 9 King St, London, WC2E 8HW - £12.50 including P & P.)
The following is an extract from a more detailed review which appeared in 'APPROPRIATE TECHNOLOGY' Vol 10, No 4, March 1984.
The objectives of the Earthscan Energy Information Programme, as stated in its annual report 1982, 'are to provide reliable, accessible and authoritative information on key aspects of traditional and renewable energy sources'. In the report it appears that this book is produced for a wide range of audiences. m e reviewer cannot represent adequately this wide-ranging audience, consequently, this review is impressionistic rather than authoritative. The report has two positive aspects. It is well written and highly readable. It has an extensive bibliography. It is unfortunate that these two positive aspects are outweighed by the many drawbacks it possesses.
First, if one were to compare the main conclusions with the meat of the report, they do not form the only possible set. Foley and Moss would have done a signal service if they had constructed several alternative sets of conclusions from their data base and brought out the inherent complexity of the problem. m us the only comment that can be made on their work as it stands now is that it at best represents a half-truth. This report cannot really be said to meet the objectives of the information programme stated earlier.
The more important drawback of the report is that it lacks analytical focus. We will highlight two issues in this context. The conventional open fire is a multiple-function device. It is used for cooking, it gives some light, and it can provide warmth when needed. m e smoke can kill insects and dry crops. In addition, there are elements of ritual and entertainment. On the other hand an improved cookstove also has multiple functions. It can save fuel, it is safer and healthier, promotes the quality of the domestic environment, and has certain connotations for the social development of a community. All these one can find in the pages of the report. Unfortunately, they do not examine the consequences of attempts to replace one multiple-function device by another which does not possess the same set of functions. Any analysis that does not squarely face this issue is unlikely to prove useful.
Thirdly, the report is most damaging in its assessment of the work of NGOs in the developing countries. Any rational analysis of the data on their work would look into, among others: a) the duration of the work; b) financial, human and technical resources; c) the overall objectives of the group; and d) the time span over which one could justifiably expect a given technology to disseminate through an entire population counted in millions. m is the authors do not attempt and hence their assessment of the work of groups in developing countries is suspect.
The report is obviously a response to the simplistic slogan, 'Improved stoves save forests'. I doubt whether a 170-page report was necessary to disprove this argument. The slogan is a global perception of the problem and unfortunately does not take note of the realities of project executions on the ground. Foley and Moss do recognize this problem, but their analysis is too weak to support their conclusion.
K Krishna Prasad Eindhoven University of Technology