The whole world is experiencing, in different degrees, an energy crisis, as available supplies of energy dwindle and alternate sources cannot rapidly be built up. In developing countries there are two major and inter-related aspects. First, increases in the price of imported petroleum products has put great strains on the balance of payments, with many countries spending more than half their foreign exchange on fossil fuel. Second, there is the problem of wood fuels and other traditional biomass forms of energy (crop residues, dung), upon which three-quarters of the population of developing countries depend for energy for cooking and heating.
In some countries the problem is already of alarming proportions, and overall perhaps 100 million people already have to live with a shortage of fuel for cooking and other basic purposes. Probably a further 1000 million are living in situations where fuel supplies are being maintained only by destruction of the woody vegetation, so that the incidence of shortages is growing rapidly.
As fuelwood shortages grow, people have to walk progressively further to collect it, so adding further hardship to their lives. Crop residues which could be used as livestock feed and dung which could be used as a soil conditioner have to be diverted to fuel use. Trees of immediate economic value such as fruit trees have to be sacrificed to the need for fuel. Progressively more scarce cash income has to go on buying fuel, at the expense of purchases of other essentials. Eventually, fuel shortages can become so acute as to force reductions in the amount of cooked food that is available.
The consequences are to increase individual poverty and suffering, and to hasten environmental deterioration as trees are out down. This "other energy crisis" is an important part of the problems affecting so many of the countries which are experiencing rapid population growth combined with decreasing agricultural production. These problems were emphasized at the 1981 United Nations Conference on New and Renewable Sources of Energy held in Nairobi. But even after all the publicity there are still difficulties in finding effective measures to deal with the problem of shortage of wood fuels.
One reason for this is that relevant information is often lacking, or it is not clear what sorts of basic facts need be known, and how these facts can be collected, and used effectively in planning. This is because fuelwood shortages are usually part of complex local human and resource systems which need to be properly understood if we are to be able to help. The failure of so many past wood fuel projects stems from incomplete and insufficient understanding.
We hope that this publication will help, by indicating what needs to be known and how the data can be collected. It is intended for people responsible for planning, policy and management in ministries of forestry, natural resources, energy or rural development, and also for officials working with donor agencies that are engaged in forestry projects.
The focus on forestry related solutions is because for the foreseeable future wood is bound to continue to be the principal source of energy in most of those areas now dependent on it. But maintaining or expanding fuelwood supplies can be only a partial solution. Throughout, therefore, we stress the need to look not only at all aspects of the problem, but also at all the possible actions which could contribute to an overall solution to domestic energy needs.
We have not written a manual which Sets Out precisely what to do. We rather seek to help people to define specific situations, to appreciate the dimensions of the fuelwood problem, to recognise what sorts of information are needed to indicate appropriate methodologies for gaining that information and to suggest further reading. Throughout this volume we stress the need to be "situation-specific", because of the variety of different situations. There is, first, a range of environmental factors (vegetation, soils, climate) which sets limits on what can be done. Then there is also a variety of: local societies and how they are organized; traditional uses of fuel; alternate fuels; governmental resources and other aspects, which combine to define what is feasible. Finally, information-gathering might relate to a single village survey, or it may encompass a national energy survey. Given the extreme variation, we have not attempted to write definitive guidelines, but instead we indicate the scope of the problem and general ways of tackling it.
Our focus is on aspects that are often neglected in forestry projects, and forestry surveys - on social relationships and the complex social, economic and ecological interrelationships; commercialization of fuels; fuel use in urban areas and rural-urban links; on the need to integrate fuelwood projects with other development programmes; on methods of fact-finding. While emphasizing these aspects, we deliberately avoid coverage of areas which are well known to readers (such as species selection and other technical aspects of forestry) or which are well documented (e.g. statistical aspects of survey design; descriptions of alternative energy technology).
This book consists of five main papers, written by different persons, from different backgrounds (see "Notes on Contributors"). Each paper covers a distinct topic, but all topics are inter-related. Mid-way through their preparation all five authors met to discuss each draft paper before finalisation so that each would be aware of the contributions of the others. The papers are followed by annexes that deal with specific problems of fuel surveys (citing actual surveys), with technical problems of measurement and with alternative energy technologies.
In the first paper, Russell deLucia provides a general overview, in which he emphasizes the need to look at rural energy not in isolation but as part of a complex system which can be analysed as a system. As deLucia states, many developing countries are unlikely to make an easy transition from traditional to commercial fuels, which heightens the importance of having detailed knowledge about wood fuels. His paper covers most salient aspects, including energy inefficiency of many existing practices, and the dynamic nature of most situations in which we find fuelwood shortage problems. A major point he makes is that surveys should never be seen as simply fact-finding exercises, but should be related to the task of identifying specific actions that attempt to improve the situation. In deciding on actions, it is necessary to integrate social and technical analyses, as one without the other will not lead to effective approaches. He concludes by considering the need for different types of survey at different levels, and he amplifies this approach in an annex.
In the second paper, Amulya Reddy shifts the focus from the general to the particular, providing a detailed and rich description and analysis of interactions within a village energy system. Although this village is based on the uniquely detailed and exhaustive examination that he and his colleagues have carried out in India, Reddy indicates how the analysis can be applied in other situations. Reddy is concerned with perceptions of the villagers, as well as of specialists from outside. He stresses the perceived advantages, and costs, for local people, of multi-purpose trees, and shows that other uses of trees for fodder or construction) must always be taken into account, together with the other uses of crop residues and dung used for fuel. A strong emphasis is placed on the inter-relationship of social, agricultural and forest ecosystems.
Next, William Morgan examines some particular problems related to commercialization of wood fuels, with emphasis on urban areas although the rural sector is also analysed. Drawing on his wide experience in West Africa, where he was a leading participant in what is probably the most extensive fuel survey ever undertaken, Morgan makes a comprehensive study of the nature of urban, industrial and commercial fuels. He presents the main features of dealer networks, and also considers problems of substitution (other fuels) and of innovation.
In the fourth paper, David Brokensha and Alfonso Peter Castro are concerned with specific problems of methods and organization of fuel-related social surveys, with emphasis on rural areas. They insist on several basic requirements, explaining that a fuel survey can only be properly interpreted if certain salient facts about the local community are understood; they emphasize the importance of indigenous knowledge, and of local participation both in surveys and in consequent actions. They stress flexibility, saying that there is no one approach suitable for all situations. And they provide advice and suggestions of survey methods, and of managing a survey and interpreting survey results.
The fifth paper brings together advice from the different contributors on field techniques for gathering specific categories of information related to fuelwood supply and use. In the opening sections David Brokensha and Alfonso Peter Castro review the various categories of information that might need to be obtained using social survey methods. This is followed by a section in which Amulya Reddy discusses needs for information on land use and land capability within the rural village. In the last section, William Morgan outlines special survey needs for commercial wood fuel systems.
The first annex, on survey design and implementation, opens with a discussion by Russell deLucia of different categories of survey, of the strengths and weaknesses of each, and of the circumstances in which they could prove appropriate. This is illustrated in the second annex by descriptions of a number of actual surveys, and is followed by summaries, contributed by a number of authors, of a number of other surveys at different levels - national, regional, sectoral and village - and using different approaches. Each summary explains the scope, scale and objectives of the survey, how it was organized, the methodology and resources used, and the output from the survey.
The third annex, by Howard Geller and Gautam Dutt, deals with measuring the efficiency with which fuel is used. It starts from the fact that the agnitude of fuelwood use in developing countries is very largely a function of the inefficiency of traditional cooking mechanisms. In planning interventions, it Can therefore be very important to know the present level of efficiency, and how needs would change with the introduction of more efficient devices and practices. The annex describes methods for measuring stove performance, and procedures for conducting tests and interpreting test results. It is supplemented by a short note, by Keith Openshaw, on measurement of wood and charcoal.
The final annex contains additional background material by Russell deLucia relating to rural energy use and technology. It deals with changing energy use in agriculture and industry, and the principal features of biogas, solar, wind and other sources of small-scale renewable energy related to such uses, and their potential as viable alternatives to wood fuels.