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close this bookBoiling Point No. 44 - Linking Household Energy with other Development Objectives (ITDG - ITDG, 2000, 44 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentPreface
View the documentTheme editorial: Integrating household energy into wider development objectives
View the documentInterlinkages of household energy with the environment
View the documentAre energy projects not wanted any more?
View the documentHealth and household energy - the need for better links between research and development
View the documentCooking smoke can increase the risk of tuberculosis
View the documentMonitoring ECO-house performance as if people mattered
View the documentCarbon trading: a new route to funding improved stove programmes?
View the documentGTZ Pages
View the documentThe integrated approach to link household energy with other development objectives - Some organisational experiences from the ProBEC demonstration project in the Hurungwe District of Zimbabwe
View the documentThe ecological cost of increasing dependence on biomass fuels as household energy in rural Nigeria
View the documentWomen in post-harvest operations: reducing the drudgery
View the documentLight... from wind... a journey of will and imagination
View the documentThe Tehesh efficient biomass stove, Tigrai, Ethiopia
View the documentResearch and Development: The 'Turbo' wood-gas stove
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View the documentWhat's happening in household energy?
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The integrated approach to link household energy with other development objectives - Some organisational experiences from the ProBEC demonstration project in the Hurungwe District of Zimbabwe

By Paul J M Mushamba-ProBEC, GTZ Office Harare, P.O. Box 2406, Harare, Zimbabwe. Email [email protected]

Energie domestique et autres objectives de dloppement: une approche int/B>

Cette de de cas, a travers un projet pilote, montre comment des impacts peuvent e atteints quand des mesures de conservation de la biomasse sont int dans des activitde dloppement rural. L'article dit les pes logiques ettre en oeuvre, tire les les des expences acquises ainsi que les moyens pour renforcer la cooption entre les principales parties prenantes.


ProBEC is a regional programme aimed at improving the quality of life for poor rural and urban people by enabling them to meet their energy needs in a socially and environmentally sustainable manner. It aims to do this by improving the links between governments and development organisations in implementing integrated biomass energy conservation (BEC) programmes.

ProBEC is a joint programme between SADC, the European Commission (EC) and the German Government. The first phase (1998-2001) ProBEC activities are restricted to six SADC countries: Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe (see BP43 page 20).

One of the major outputs of ProBEC is the implementation of BEC demonstration projects, which are intended to show the impacts that can be achieved when BEC measures are integrated into ongoing rural development activities. The idea is to start with a limited geographical region where measurable impacts can be made within a short space of time. In the even of a successful demonstration project, replication to other regions of the country is envisaged. In Zimbabwe, preparations for implementing the BEC demonstration project in Hurungwe district are at an advanced stage. This article describes the logical steps, and a few experiences gained with the integrated approach in Zimbabwe.

Starting a ProBEC demonstration project

The following steps have been followed and completed:

· identification of a project partner and a suitable BEC demonstration project site,

· introduction of ProBEC to the full rural district council meeting of Hurungwe,

· selection of needy villages to participate in the BEC project,

· identification of other sector organisations with linkages to BEC,

· holding village meetings to introduce ProBEC and discuss the biomass energy problems in the villages,

· district level planning workshop for the BEC demonstration project.

Measures taken to ensure the integrated/participatory approach

Identification of a lead agency

No attempt was made to create a new structure to take charge of the implementation of the demonstration project. The identification of a project partner from existing organisations was done using the criteria of:

· compatibility of organisational objectives (between ProBEC and the partner),
· rural orientation of the partner,
· the relevance of BEC measures in the area where the prospective partner is operating,
· outreach capacity of the partner, and
· track record in terms of interaction with the community.

The prospective partner had to demonstrate a readiness to cooperate with other organisations in the neighbourhood, and a willingness to contribute, one way or the other, some inputs to the project. This partner would take the lead and coordinate the planning, implementation and monitoring of the demonstration project.

Out of four short-listed prospective partners, the Social Forestry Project (SFP) in Hurungwe District was selected because it scored very well on most of the criteria. The majority of villages in Hurungwe are severely deforested, and some households cook with crop residues and animal dung. The SFP has managed to cultivate a healthy working relationship with the extension agencies in the district, who, in turn, have adopted the SFP agenda.

Community participation

A participatory rural appraisal was done for the social forestry programme in the district, and the results were used to identify the villages that had the greatest need for BEC interventions. This method of selection was readily endorsed by the full council meeting of the district as it was seen to be fair.

Figure 1: Participative workshops in Hurungwe

Probec-GTZ: Zimbabwe

Figure 2: Participative workshops in Hurungwe

Probec-GTZ: Zimbabwe

To ensure full participation of the villagers right from the start, information meetings were held with each village to share information on their energy problems, and reflect on possible solutions in the context of a BEC project. Both the traditional and elected leadership gave their unreserved support. The meetings provided the forum for the election of village representatives who then participated in a subsequent planning meeting for the BEC demo project at district level.

Each village sent three representatives, such as leaders of women's groups. Others were elected because of their ability to mix easily and work with other members of the village, eg the village community workers (VCWs). One participant represented informal-sector artisans. The rest of the participants came from the extension services.

Working with existing village structures

The social forestry project has been operating in Hurungwe District for about a year now. It has set up village committees, which are charged with coordinating the social forestry activities in the village. The village committee is made up of elected representatives of the villagers, plus village-based extension workers, village community workers from the Ministry of National Affairs, and staff members of Agritex (Agricultural extension workers from the Ministry of Lands and Agriculture). These same committees have now taken on the responsibility to coordinate ProBEC activities as well.

There are a number of advantages of using existing structures.

· The coordination of development activities in the village becomes easier because they are all channeled through the same route. Potential conflicts between different groupings are minimised.

· Using the same committee to coordinate different projects going on in their village is very time-effective.

· An existing committee is already experienced, so it is not necessary to build their capacity from scratch.

Integration of the BEC project into other sectors

The issue of biomass energy cuts across, and is linked to, many other sectors in rural development. Nevertheless, there is still little evidence at district level of an integrated approach to development. For example, departments of line ministries continue to do things separately.

An analysis of the organisations and projects which are active in the project area showed that the sectors of health, agriculture, natural resources, traditional authorities, education and national affairs have links with BEC.

At the village meetings, which were held to discuss the biomass energy problem, representatives from all the sectors above were invited to participate. The majority did. They also participated actively at the planning workshop of the BEC project at district level. It was at this planning workshop that specific tasks were allocated to the different organisations.

The commitment of the participating organisations holds the key to the success of the integrated approach being advocated by ProBEC. Responding to communication (letters, phone calls, requests, etc) in good time, attending meetings, providing specific inputs, performing agreed tasks are all indicators of commitment by a given individual or organisation.

In Hurungwe, staff members from these organisations have offered maximum cooperation. Recently they participated in a baseline survey to determine the household energy situation in the villages. Some of them have started, on their own initiative, to discuss developing interventions (such as energy-saving stoves) with women in their villages. One NGO, which is involved in environmental education for schools, has undertaken to include BEC-related messages in its future publications.

Table 1. Potential pitfalls in project implementation

Integration measure

Potential pitfalls

Selection of cooperating partner

Be sure that chosen partner is well-respected by the community

Community participation

Ensure that the voices of the ordinary villagers are not stifled by strong local leaders

Working with existing village structures

Some members of the village committees may become too powerful

Co-operation with other sectors

The extension workers can become overloaded

Capacity-building of field staff

Despite all the good intentions, actual implementation may be hampered by lack of capacity of the respective field workers outside their particular sector. Generally there is emphasis on subject matter that is specific to the sector, but pays little regard to linkages with other sectors. Thus an environmental health technician or agricultural extension worker may not be aware of the linkages between BEC and his/her own job description.

There is a need, therefore, to raise awareness and improve the capacity of extension workers to undertake BEC activities: this can be done through village information meetings, BEC planning meetings, baseline surveys, and training workshops.

Beware of pitfalls

In implementing these measures, one needs to be aware of some potential pitfalls to avoid as summarised in Table 1.

Ways of enhancing cooperation/integration

Integration calls for deliberate effort, on a mutual basis, to bring the different sectors to work together. The suggestions below are largely meant for the project staff and the extension workers at both the personal and organisational levels.


Put simply, the integrated approach is a call for the creation of windows of cooperation on the walls that traditionally demarcate one sector from the next. This calls for the relaxation of some of the regulations that govern the operations of the cooperating organisations.

Understanding the social, economic and professional situation of the partner

To the average development worker, the term 'cooperation' means signed agreements between two organizations which have agreed to work together to achieve some development objectives. Though useful, the scope of such agreements in helping to meet the demands of day-to-day project implementation work is limited. Co-operation must be redefined in terms of the daily interaction with other players on the rural development scene. Cooperation is then seen to revolve around cultivating trust and mutual respect between the project staff and the extension workers, or field workers of NGOs.

The extension worker may be existing in a harsh economic environment and may have adopted coping strategies to earn extra income; for example, a teacher will offer to teach extra lessons at night school; an agricultural extension worker may decide to rear chickens. These extra activities may make the extension worker reluctant to take on 'extra' responsibilities, in addition to his/her job description.

At the professional level, job-related earnings for professional staff have become a common feature for improving efficiency. Extension workers have key areas of work, and their salaries may be paid on the results achieved in these areas. Efforts should be made to highlight areas where the job description of a field worker, intersects with that of a multi-sectoral project such as the BEC demonstration project. Such areas are more likely to gain ready acceptance and cooperation from that staff member.

Two examples of overlap can be cited in Hurungwe. One is the link between the kitchen environment and the home-based care of terminally sick family members, eg those suffering from HIV/Aids. Health personnel recognise the need for a clean home environment, and thus improved stove technologies that minimise smoke in the kitchen have aroused the interest of the environmental health technicians (EHTs) because these stoves reduce the environmental health problem.

The agricultural extension (Agritex) workers also see an overlap between promoting better land use planning and setting aside a part of the land to allow trees to grow. Harvesting of tree products for various purposes, including fuelwood is allowed on a controlled basis. Since BEC encourages efficient use of fuelwood, it should have a positive impact on fuelwood supply, and consequently on land use planning.


The integrated approach is in its early stages. At the level of sectoral organisations, commitment has been demonstrated by allowing their extension workers to provide time inputs to the BEC project. In some instances, the linkages between a given sector and BEC still need to be further defined. On the whole however, one sees good prospects for the success of the integrated approach.

Mr Paul Mushamba is the Energy Advisor to ProBEC - Programme for Biomass Energy: Conservation in Southern Africa. Before joining ProBEC, Mr Mushamba was with the Department of Energy of Zimbabwe, being responsible for renewable and alternative energies.