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World Bank backs efforts to clean up cooking fuels in Uganda

By Jacky Achan

Added 30th September 2018 10:52 PM

With forests gone, UBOS indicates that traditional cooking methods expose family members to numerous pollutants causing health problems.

World Bank backs efforts to clean up cooking fuels in Uganda

With forests gone, UBOS indicates that traditional cooking methods expose family members to numerous pollutants causing health problems.

A total $2.2m(over sh8.4 billion) has been injected by the World Bank to foster the sales and adoption of cleaner and more efficient cooking technologies in Uganda under the Clean Cooking Supply Chain Expansion project.

According to the Uganda Bureau of statistics (UBOS) 2016 figures and findings, the country meets more than 89% of its energy demand with biomass, 10% with fossil fuel combustion and only 1% with electricity from hydro and fossil fueled thermal power plants.

This has led to a total forest cover decline of 27 percent between 1990 and 2005, with 1.8% decline per year on average. Reports by National Forestry Authority indicate that Uganda's forest cover across the country tremendously declined from 24% (4,933,271 hectares) of land area in the 1990 to less than 9% (1,956,664 hectares) in 2018.

A study by Samuel Lietaer and Edwin Zaccai on making clean cooking champions: perceptions on development of private actors in Uganda, indicates more than two billion people in the world and most households in Uganda depend on wood energy for cooking and heating.

Nonetheless, associated with traditional use of wood fuels is energy inefficiency, deforestation, the associated increasing time for collection of fuel that largely affects women, deleterious health and environmental effects.

With forests gone, UBOS also indicates that traditional cooking methods expose family members to numerous pollutants causing health problems.

The Uganda Clean Cooking Supply Chain Expansion funded by the World Bank being and implemented by Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU), Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development and Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development is working to reduce the negative impacts on the environment and economic burden on households stemming from inefficient use of solid biomass fuels for cooking.

The improved biomass cook stoves which are being introduced which while still burning biomass (wood, crop waste, dried animal dung) reduce indoor air Pollution.

Interventions
According to  Lietaer and Zaccai study, while the history of biogas technology in Uganda dates to the 1950s, The Uganda clean cooking sector emerged in the 1980s mainly due to concerns over deforestation and desertification.

Since the 1980's, many developing country households have been slow to adopt them, largely because the technology transfer was project based rather than focusing on the development of a commercially viable business development.

The government's ambition was to increase the adoption of efficient fuelwood stoves to 4,000,000 by last year.

This is because the clean cooking sector is essential in achieving several public, national, and international goals. At least 10 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially goals 3, 5, 7 and 13 respectively emphasizes on ensuring healthy lives and promoting wellbeing for all at all ages, gender equality, energy access for all and climate action.

A field research in Uganda, Kampala region, explored the success factors according to local private actors' perceptions including entrepreneurs, manufacturers and distributors.

It found improved cooking technologies are more difficult to sell than traditional ones mainly because they are more expensive in the short-term. Companies struggle to keep a balance between affordable price and quality products.

But even with that challenge, as the development of a sustainable national grid has all too long been portrayed as something for the longer term, biomass stoves and biogas installations have provided small-scale solutions.

Andrew Ndawula, a bamboo expert though happy with the improved cooking stoves, says there is need to look at the sustainability of the project.

"The stoves will only make sense if the people using it have a sustainable source of fuel. If they are still going to the forest to get wood or charcoal then we are just treating the problem, we need sustainability which comes from getting a proper source of fuel and for our case this lies in bamboo," he says.

Ndawula adds: "Bamboo grow very fast and you can start harvesting in three years thereafter you can harvest the bamboo continuously for 60-80 years this will provide a sustainable source of fuel and take the pressure off our natural forests that take so many years to replace."
Ndawula says every household should be encouraged to grow bamboo so that they have a sustainable source of fuel for their clean cooking stoves.

Gains so far

According to Richard Hosier in the World Bank Implementation Status and Results Report 2018, on Uganda Clean Cooking Supply Chain Expansion Project, cumulative sales of clean energy stoves was at about 10,000 as of end June this year.

Households that gained access to more energy-efficient cooking or heating facilities or both were 10,000 as of August this year.

Whereas climate impact reduction of net carbon emissions from inefficient combustion of biomass was at 1,266 tones as of July 2017.

But at the close the project on December 31, 2019, Households that gained access to more energy-efficient cooking or heating facilities or both should have reached 45,000 whereas climate impact reduction of net carbon emissions from inefficient combustion of biomass should be at 5,600 tones.

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