Finding Solutions for communities, conservation and the climate
A large number of rural communities in Africa exhibit substantial vulnerability to recent changes in climate and weather patterns. Such communities, often with poorly diversified livelihood bases, generallyare highly dependent on renewable and biological resources, which themselves are subject to the vicissitudes of climatic variations.
Solar salesman in Gulu, Uganda.
Photo: James H. Anderson /Flickr
The conservation community is recognizing the complex dynamic between meeting the needs of both the human and animal populations in areas of ecological importance. Addressing household energy needs can help reduce pressure on natural resources such as firewood and bring positive impacts for local residents. For example, the surveys showed that households could travel up to 50 km to the nearest town to purchase kerosene for lighting and spend over 5 hours looking for firewood for cooking. Encouraging the use of technologies such as solar lanterns and energy efficient stoves can help reduce the time spent on fuel collection as well as reducing household expenditure.
~Laura Clough, Technical Specialist, GVEP International.
ABCG’s climate change efforts focus on a variety of approaches using science-based decision-making tools and participatory techniques. These approaches include climate change adaptation; providing stakeholders with appropriate methodologies and best practices for conservation-development tradeoffs; grazing management and soil carbon; and the topic of this feature newsletter, Applying Clean Energy and Sustainable Eco-charcoal Technology. In the past year the Clean Energy working group’s sought to understand which strategies have worked in promoting the use and adoption of clean energy technologies so as to influence future programming, policy-making and development goals.
In 2012, ABCG members, including the Africa Wildlife Foundation and the Jane Goodall Institute, produced two reports and accompanying report briefs authored by GVEP International , targeted at a broad spectrum of audiences including policy makers, natural resource managers and households.
The report, a Review of Household Clean Energy Technology for Lighting, Charging and Cooking in East Africa-Kenya and Tanzania: A Learning Report, is aimed at informing policy development to enhance the adoption of appropriate technologies and production methods.
Improved cookstove. Photo Saksan /Flickr
An extensive appendix of advanced cookstoves, solar products and their suppliers both in Tanzania and Kenya are featured in the report. The report presents key findings of the authors’ comprehensive survey, rendering the report a particularly valuable resource inventory of the technology landscape in eastern Africa. For example, it is evident that there is a plethora of innovative and imaginative product solutions, but the survey points to significant barriers in the adoption of such technology including lack of capital on the consumer side and lack of collateral and credit on the business side.
A follow up report builds on the findings of the review of household clean energy technologies, and presents a toolkit to better identify and support appropriate and context sensitive technologies and approaches for implementing agencies. The report, subtitled Toolkit for Implementing Household Energy Projects in Conservation Areas, proves useful for the wider conservation community and household-level energy sector development as well. Rich with schematic diagrams and other visual illustrations, the report presents the reader with the benefits and drawbacks of a selection of cookstove and lighting technology options under various application contexts linked to biodiversity conservation and community development. These technologies include eco-charcoal (improved) stoves, biogas, wind and solar systems. Furthermore, consideration is paid to the economic feasibility of a particular technology. The toolkit offers a handy assessment and implementation methodology to get started, as well as operational, monitoring and evaluation considerations to support the implementer towards successful project completion.
Developing systems of renewable and ecologically sound energy production, distribution and consumption can mean the difference between catastrophic collapse or thriving livelihoods for many rural (and even urban) African communities as well as natural ecosystems that support such communities. A recent peer-reviewed study by Konrad Wessels of the CSIR-Meraka Institute in South Africa found evidence that rural communities face imminent danger of depleting their wood-based energy supply unless they make the switch to other sustainable sources to avert devastating ecological collapse. A link to the study can be found through Conservation Magazine’s article here.
Scaling up the use of appropriate clean and fuel efficient technology for energy in rural areas and the fast growing urban population in Africa is urgently needed if Africa’s landscapes are to survive and remain viable engines for economic development through the ecosystem services they offer.’ It is for this reason that the analysis facilitated by ABCG is timely, relevant, and welcome as the global community seeks to achieve the vision for universal access to clean and affordable energy by 2030.
~Jimmiel Mandima, Program Director of Policy, African Wildlife Foundation