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3. FUEL SUPPLY, DEMAND AND CONSUMPTION TREND

3.1. Woodfuel Review and Assessment

Fuelwood represents the major source of domestic energy in the Gambia. Electricity production and supply are limited to the coastal urban regions and selected Growth Centres of the rural areas. It is relatively expensive. Despite official efforts to increase the viability and attractiveness of natural gas this remains a relatively expensive, and unpopular from of energy. Based on household activities alone, it has been estimated that, on the average, per capita consumption of fuelwood in the Gambia equals around 0.17 cubic meters of wood per annum. This translates to the equation that each person consumes the sustainable harvest of between 1- 2 hectares of forest (Steiner, 1994).

3.2. Fuelwood Production and Supply in the Rural Areas

Around 70% of the population live in the rural areas. They obtain their fuelwood locality from farmland, fallowland, bush, or the collection of deadwood from nearby forest.

There is limited commercialisation of the fuels used for local consumption. Where high quality fuelwood is not available rural people tend to rely on small or less popular species. Experience else where, even under considerably more severe environmental condition suggest that as long as the agricultural system remains productive the locally available biomass resources can meet local cooking fuel needs on a continuing basis. Under these conditions, low-income families have no financial incentive to shift to commercial fuels or to invest in energy saving metal stoves.

3.3. Commercial Fuelwood Production for Urban Centres

The collection of fuelwood, especially for supply in the urban areas, causes additional pressure on the country's wood resources. The population of the Greater Banjul Area (GBA: Banjul and Kanifing Municipality) and Brikama is about 38% of the national total. A considerable proportion of the fuelwood supply in this area is commercialised.

The supply system works at number of different levels. Firewood is produced by individual license holders, employing assistants or by producers organised under community licenses. The licenses allow the exploitation and production of five lorry loads per month each with a load of 10 tons, which amounts to 600 tons per year. According to Danso et al (1994), only few producers are able to use the license fully.

The fuelwood license holders and their assistants are authorised to collect deadwood from land within the Administrative Divisions they are located, except from forest parks, community forests or from village lands that have a community license.

The production process is done by using compound saws, felling and cross cutting to various sizes (one meter or fifty-centimetre logs or quarter splits). The wood is split near the collection area, either inside the forest, on the main road or in the nearest village to the production site. The average time taken to produce 40 m3 (a lorry load of 10 ton) is noted to be 2 weeks, the producers assisted by three assistants. The production factor is 1:4, that is, for one m3 firewood, which is sold in the urban areas about 4 m3 of wood, is required. This rate is a rough estimate considering that forests are burnt to generate enough dead logs by which process valuable wood is being burnt for nothing.

3.4. Urban Fuelwood Supplies

Fuelwood dealers, based in the urban areas, are responsible for most of the fuelwood brought in by truck. Small teams of fuelwood-cutters working for the dealers gather 10-ton truck loads of fuel in the forest area and then hire transport to take it to the Greater Banjul Areas (GBA) where it is distributed to local whole sale or retail dealers.

The trucks are owned by shippers and are usually hired while returning from a trip to distribute goods up country, thus providing an opportunity for low cost transport. The system appears to be competitive and provides customers with a reliable supply of wood at a moderate price.

Fuelwood dealers operate under license and pay royalties to the Forestry Department and to local authorities. No payments are made to the local communities in the areas from which wood is collected. The Forestry Department, in co-operation with the Gambia Police, monitors the traffic in truckloads of fuel along the only first class (tarmac) road leading into the GBA. The monitoring system appears to be working effectively and there is no evidence of large-scale evasion of the checking system by the shippers. Transport of small loads of bundled fuelwood into the GBA is unrestricted. Considerable amounts of small loads of the bundles of fuelwood are brought into the GBA by pickup trucks and private cars.

Analysis has suggested that up to 90% of the woody vegetation harvested in the Gambia is used for fuelwood (Trolldaden, 1986). In an attempt to govern this process and to increase the efficiency of the wood utilised for energy purposes, the Government of the Gambia banned the production of charcoal in all regions of the country in 1980. It has been estimated that 1kg of unconverted wood is equivalent, in terms of energy content, to 2.5kg of charcoal (Trolldaden 1986), suggesting the use of charcoal represents the inefficient use of scarce forest resources.

3.5. Main Type of Fuel Used for Cooking

From above, fuelwood usage is said to be related to other socio-economic variables such as income, populate growth and forest cover available. These dynamics culminate to determining the rate of firewood consumption. The rate of fuelwood consumption has been quite steady despite the high rate of population growth. Rapid urbanisation can retard growth as wood is generally purchased in urban set-ups.

 

Tables 5 through 11 give the trend of fuel usage for cooking by Local Government Area (LGA). These tables support the dominance of firewood as the Gambian source of fuel for domestic use. The individual fuel-usage trend, except firewood, has not been as steady. Five years ago however, relatively more households used firewood than today. In addition, the proportion of households using Butane-gas (LPG) has increased.




TABLE 5: PERCENTAGE DISTRIBUTION OF MAIN FUEL USED FOR COOKING NOW BY LGA

LGA

TYPE OF FUEL

TOTAL

Firewood

Charcoal

Gas

Banjul

88.0

12.0

100.0

Kanifing

93.2

2.9

3.9

100.0

Brikama

96.5

3.5

100.0

Mansakonko

100.0

100.0

Kerewan

93.4

6.6

100.0

Kuntaur

100.0

100.0

Janjanbureh

97.2

2.8

100.0

Basse

100.0

100.0

Total

95.6

1.0

3.4

100.0

Source: (Keita/NCC, 1999)

 

 

 

TABLE 6: PERCENTAGE DISTRIBUTION OF MAIN FUEL USED FOR COOKING TWO YEARS AGO

LGA

TYPE OF FUEL

Total

Firewood

Charcoal

Gas

Electricity

Banjul

100.0

100.00

Kanifing

98.0

1.0

1.0

100.00

Brikama

97.5

1.3

1.3

100.00

Mansakonko

100.0

100.00

Kerewan

96.7

3.3

100.00

Kuntaur

100.0

100.00

Janjanbureh

97.1

2.9

100.00

Basse

95.0

5.0

100.00

Total

97.7

0.3

1.6

0.4

100.00

Source: Domestic Energy Consumption Survey Report 1999 by Malang Keita

 

TABLE: 7 PERCENTAGE DISTRIBUTION OF MAIN FUEL USED FOR COOKING FIVE YEARS AGO

LGA

TYPE OF FUEL

Total

Firewood

Charcoal

Gas

Electricity

Banjul

100.0

100.00

Kanifing

99.0

1.0

100.00

Brikama

98.7

1.3

100.00

Mansakonko

100.0

100.00

Kerewan

100.0

100.00

Kuntaur

100.0

100.00

Georgetown

97.1

2.9

100.00

Basse

100.0

100.00

Total

99.2

0.3

0.3

0.2

100.00

3.6. Fuel Consumption Trends

Different studies were carried out in the past but most of the estimates arrived at appear incorrect as suggested by the consumption patterns revealed by the studies. Also given our population density and wood availability, some figures reported are simply high. Below, are some results from past studies. The per capita wood consumption presented by both Openshaw and ORGATEC are on the high side. The most reasonable is that of Von Bulow and Cowi Consult, which are similar to the figures in tables 8 through 11.

3.7. Fuelwood Consumption and Trade

It is estimated that firewood account for about 84% of the total primarily energy consumption of the country (MTIE, 1992) and it is exclusively produced from the Gambia forest. Production, excluding that from mangrove forests, represents about 40,000 m3/year.

However, firewood consumption in the country has been estimated at various levels by different authors with a range of 0.65 to 0.85m3 per capita per annum. Of recent however consumption estimates have been placed at the lower limit of the range with an average annual volume in cement of about 1.1 million ha (Forster, 1983). Annual fuelwood consumption surpasses wood production by more than 100,000 m3.

There were several studies that were conducted to estimate the fuelwood demand of the country. The results were quite different. The consumption rate per capita varies from 1.44 m3 (Openshaw, 1973) to 0.34 m3 (Foley, 1994). However, the consumption rate for firewood decreased considerably with time when the various studies were prepared. Forster and Zohrer (1982) pointed out the statistical estimation methods used in the studies as the main cause of the variations.

The decrease of the consumption rate until the late 1980s is rather an effect of more precise and accurate analysis than it is a real reduction in the consumption. But then, firewood prices increased due to diminished resources and people started to save firewood by, for example, using improved cooking stoves, changing cooking habits sharing cooking facilities or using alternative fuel (butane gas).

The data provided in these studies need to be treated with great caution. The surveys provided by Von Bulow and Cowi Consult are reasonably accurate measurements of the weights of wood consumed (see Table 8). There is some evidence of strong price effects on the consumption of wood in The Gambia over the past decade and a half. The figures given above and in Table 8, show the corresponding results of the Openshaw (1972/3), ORGATEC (1981); and Von Bulow/Cowi Consult Surveys (1983/4). Apart from the data difficulties in fuel consumption, additional errors resulted since all calculations were on per capita basis because of the lack of knowledge of the Sinkiro Sizes (household cooking units). This created an over estimation.

ORGATEC (1981) argued that Openshaw (1973) results must be incorrect because

he obtained a higher per capita figure for the Urban areas and

The total Gambia Fuelwood consumption appeared to decrease between 1972/3 and 1981, despite a population increase (ORGATEC, 1983).

There appears to be a legitimate doubt about the methodologies of Openshaw (1973) and ORGATEC) studies. The results of Openshaw and ORGATEC suffer from gross conversion inaccuracies because they had to rely on peoplesí responses of bundles and sticks and did not actually weigh the firewood. The results of Von Bulow and Cowi Consult are based on small samples, weighing was done in only 5 households in rural areas.

Table 8: Per Capita Fuelwood Consumption based on Various Studies

STUDY

PER CAPITA CONSUMPTION (KG PER CAPITA)

Urban

Rural

Openshaw (1973)

2.96

2.72

ORGATE (1981)

1.60

1.80

Von Bulow (1983)

0.85

1.17

COWI (1984)

0.85

1.17

NCC (1993)

0.76

1.09

NCC (1999)

   

Table 9: Estimated Fuelwood Consumption in The Gambia 1984 (1000 tons) (COWI Consult 1984)

REGIONS

CONSUMPTION

Banjul/Kombo/St. Mary's

45.2

Western Division

26.5

Northern Bank Division

52.9

Maccarthy Island Division

59.2

Upper River Division

50.8

Total

300.8

 

3.8. Fuelwood Supply and Demand

The lack of precision in the estimates of both supply and more particularly, demand of fuelwood in the Gambia makes the estimation of "Shortfalls" and "Surpluses" an exercise clouded by uncertainty. Anecdotal evidence suggests that shortages are developing around certain Growth Centres in the rural areas of the country where the demand for wood is the greatest. In the 1981 survey, ORGATEC suggested that both the areas around Basse and Farrafenni were fuelwood deficit areas.

The following analysis concentrates on Banjul area for three reasons. Firstly, the area is likely to be the only region susceptible to policy intervention as:

almost all wood used is bought and

the geography of the area is such that all woods enter Banjul by the same route.

Secondly, existing data on the consumption of wood are probably more accurate for this area. Thirdly, the potential exists for collecting reasonably accurate data for this area.

In order to assess whether the supply of wood to the Greater Banjul Area is sustainable it is necessary to determine its source. It is quite difficult to establish all areas wood is produced. However, it has widely believed that most of the fuelwood arriving in Banjul comes from the rural areas. Fuelwood is also illegally coming from Cassamance region of the Republic of Senegal.

Table 10 presents the yearly fuel consumption from 1994 to 1999 in cubic metres. The rate of fuel consumption in recent years has been quite steady, growing at a rate of one (1%) per annum. This low rate of growth is partly the result of scarcity of firewood in most parts of the country. Today, firewood is increasingly commanding a price in almost all parts of The Gambia. The limitation of its supply has, among other things, necessitated its importation from neighbouring countries. Increasing urbanisation, low per capita income and improved cooking devices are among factors that reduce the rate of growth of fuelwood consumption despite our fast growing population. This is also depicted by the figure below. Table 10 through Table 12 were derived from the 1993 Fuelwood Survey conducted by the National Climate Committee (NCC) and the 1999 Energy Survey, also by the NCC and the reference document provided by FAO. Table 10B is derived from the reference data supplied by FAO, which can be compared with Table: 10A. There is no information on the methodology and purpose of the FAO study. The figures, however, are relatively high for domestic energy consumption.

Table 10a: Yearly Fuelwood Consumption by LGA in cubic metres (m3)

LGA

1994

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

BANJUL

9897

9997

9997

10098

10098

10200

KANIFING

99902

100912

100912

101931

101931

102960

BRIKAMA

112365

113500

113500

114647

114647

115805

M/KONKO

35076

35430

35430

35788

35788

36149

KEREWAN

63570

64212

64212

64860

64860

65516

G/TOWN

27656

27935

27935

28218

28218

28503

KUN TAUR

50093

50599

50599

51110

51110

51626

BASSE

91304

92226

92226

93158

93158

94099

THE GAMBIA

489863

494811

494811

499809

499809

504858

Source: National Climate Committee Household Energy Survey, (1999).

 

 

Table 10b: Yearly Fuelwood Consumption in cubic metres (m3)

Year

1990

1991

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

Consumption

769054

791577

814759

838621

859743

879618

859137

Source: FAO data

Table 11: Yearly Fuelwood Consumption by LGA in equivalent of Lower Heating Value (LHV) in Giga joules

LGA

1994

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

BANJUL

99017

100017

100017

101027

101027

102048

KANIFING

999524

1009620

1009620

1019819

1019819

1030120

BRIKAMA

1124215

1135570

1135570

1147041

1147041

1158627

M/KONKO

350933

354478

354478

358059

358059

361675

KEREWAN

636014

642439

642439

648928

648928

655483

G/TOWN

276698

279493

279493

282316

282316

285168

KUNTAUR

501177

506239

506239

511353

511353

516518

BASSE

913499

922726

922726

932046

932046

941461

THE GAMBIA

4901077

4950583

4950583

5000589

5000589

5051100

Source: National Climate Committee Household Energy Survey, 1999.

 

Table 12: Yearly Fuelwood Consumption by LGA and wood type in equivalent of Lower Heating Value (LHV) in Giga joules

LGA

Pterocarpus Erinaceus

(Keno)

Prosopis

Africana

(Kembo)

Combretum Glutinosum (Jambakatang)

Terminalia

Macroptera

(Wolo)

Others

TOTAL

BANJUL

102048

0

0

0

0

102048

KANIFING

738596

123614

14422

26783

126705

1030120

BRIKAMA

361492

129766

76469

166842

424057

1158627

M/KONKO

116821

40508

74143

20977

109226

361675

KEREWAN

119298

23597

188779

51128

272681

655483

G/TOWN

81558

8555

167964

9981

17110

285168

KUNTAUR

213322

26859

139460

38739

98138

516518

BASSE

189234

29185

543223

109209

70610

941461

THE GAMBIA

1922368

382085

1204460

423659

1118527

5051100

 

 

 

 

Table 13: Yearly Fuelwood Consumption by LGA and wood type in cubic metres (m3)

LGA

Pterocarpus Erinaceus

(Keno)

Prosopis

Africana

(Kembo)

Combretum

Glutinosum

(Jambakatang)

Terminalia

Macroptera

(Wolo)

Others

TOTAL

BANJUL

10200

0

0

0

0

10200

KANIFING

73823

12355

1441

2677

12664

102960

BRIKAMA

36131

12970

7643

16676

42385

115805

M/KONKO

11676

4049

7411

2097

10917

36149

KEREWAN

11924

2359

18868

5110

27254

65516

G/TOWN

8152

855

16788

998

1710

28503

KUNTAUR

21322

2685

13939

3872

9809

51626

BASSE

18914

2917

54295

10915

7057

94099

THE GAMBIA

192141

38189

120386

42345

111797

504858

3.9. Consumption of Fuelwood in Fish Smoking

The widespread processing of fish in the artisan sector also exert a substantial demand for fuel wood (Saine and Willman 1994) calculated that fish smokers in the coastal communities of the Gambia may utilise between 0.7 and 1.1kg of wood per 1kg of Bonga fish smoked, and annually 7,800 tones of fuelwood is used in smoking Bonga alone, representing the sustainable harvest of around 9,400 hectares of healthy forest clearly the smoking of Bonga is only one component of a substantially larger smoking enterprise both along the Atlantic Coast and the River Gambia, and total fuelwood consumption by smokers is likely to be considerably higher than reported.

Table: 14 Fuelwood used in Fish Smoking (in cubic metres) by Type of Wood

WOOD TYPE

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

Palm tree

438

455

473

492

512

Netto

1368

1423

1480

1539

1601

Fara

581

604

628

653

679

Mampato

1491

1551

1613

1678

1745

Wolo

331

345

359

373

388

Jalo

56

59

61

63

66

Keno

53

55

58

60

62

Tamba

34

36

37

38

40

Mampato

166

173

180

187

195

Machincharo

337

350

364

379

394

Santango

158

165

171

178

185

Yeri Nghanya

78

81

84

88

91

Talo

590

614

638

664

690

Others

5682

5910

6146

6392

6647

Total

11365

11820

12292

12784

13295

 

3.10. Charcoal

In 1970s, the Government of the Gambia developed great concern in conversion of wood into charcoal. It has been noted that the natural vegetation cannot sustain the rate of charcoal production. The consumer switch from fuelwood to charcoal was widely regarded with great concern because one ton of charcoal requires about five tones of fuelwood as input and replaces around 3 tons of end-use consumption. It has been estimated that 1kg of unconverted wood is equivalent in terms of energy content to 2.5kg of charcoal (Trolldaden 1986), suggesting the use of charcoal represents the in efficient use of scarce forest resources.

In 1980, the production of charcoal was banned in the Gambia and this ban was instituted through a proclamation made by the president of the Republic.

Groundnut shell briquetting was introduced to avoid acceleration in deforestation but this has not been popular. Because the amount of groundnut shell usually available depends on the annual groundnut production and due to the Sahelian drought production has decreased markedly and use of the shells as source of energy is negligible.

The Forest Act and Regulations of 1998, section 108 (1) prohibited the production of charcoal in any parts of the country but provision are made for the importation and sale of charcoal in the Gambia (Forest Act 1998). Currently charcoal is imported in bags from neighbouring Senegal and sold commercially. The use of charcoal in the Gambia is restricted to irony and making tea or heating snacks on a small metal stove. There are only few households using charcoal for cooking. The extent of charcoal use in Banjul is still difficult to verify. FAO estimates 54,000 tones in 1992 in all of Gambia and presumably a large part would be consumed in the capital area. However, this number has been extrapolated from the 40,000 tones reported for 1981.

3.11. Electricity usage in The Gambia

Tables 15 give the details of electricity usage in The Gambia. Less than half the population has electricity supply in their homes in The Gambia. In the capital city, Banjul, 95.5% of the population has electricity. This is followed by Kanifing, where a little over three-quarters of the community are enjoying electricity facility. These can be compare to Kuntaur, where only 8.7% of the households have electricity supply.

Table 15: Availability of Electricity supply in households

AVBL

OF ELECT.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA

TOT.

Banjul

Kanifing

Brikama

Mansakonko

Kerewan

Kuntaur

Georgetown

Basse

Yes

Count

21.0

81.0

27.0

10.0

21.0

2.0

10.0

10.0

182.0

%

95.5

77.1

31.8

33.3

34.4

8.7

27.8

23.8

45.0

No

Count

1.0

24.0

58.0

20.0

40.0

21.0

26.0

32.0

222.0

%

4.5

22.9

68.2

66.7

65.6

91.3

72.2

76.2

55.0

Total

%

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

Source: NCC (1999)

 

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