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The forbidden fuel: Charcoal, urban woodfuel demand and supply dynamics, community forest management and woodfuel policy in Malawi

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  • Zulu, Leo Charles
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    Abstract

    This article examines woodfuel policy challenges and opportunities in Malawi two decades after woodfuel-crisis narratives and counter-narratives. A nuanced examination of woodfuel supply, demand, use, and markets illuminated options to turn stagnant policies based on charcoal 'bans' and fuel-substitution into proactive, realistic ones acknowledging woodfuel dominance and its socio-economic importance. Findings revealed growing, spatially differentiated woodfuel deficits in southern and central Malawi and around Blantyre, Zomba and Lilongwe cities. Poverty, limited electricity access, reliability and generation exacerbated by tariff subsidies, and complex fuel-allocation decisions restricted energy-ladder transitions from woodfuels to electricity, producing an enduring urban-energy mix dominated by charcoal, thereby increasing wood consumption. Diverse socio-political interests prevented lifting of the charcoal 'ban' despite progressive forest laws. Despite implementation challenges, lessons already learnt, efficiency and poverty-reduction arguments, limited government capacity, growing illegal production of charcoal in forest reserves, and its staying power, make targeted community-based forest management (CBFM) approaches more practical for regulated, commercial production of woodfuels than the status quo. New differentiated policies should include commercial woodfuel production and licensing for revenue and ecological sustainability under CBFM or concessions within and outside selected reserves, an enterprise-based approaches for poverty reduction, smallholder/private tree-growing, woodfuel-energy conserving technologies, improved electricity supply and agricultural productivity.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Energy Policy.

    Volume (Year): 38 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 7 (July)
    Pages: 3717-3730

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:38:y:2010:i:7:p:3717-3730

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/enpol

    Related research

    Keywords: Woodfuel Community-based forest management Malawi;

    References

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    1. Mwampamba, Tuyeni Heita, 2007. "Has the woodfuel crisis returned? Urban charcoal consumption in Tanzania and its implications to present and future forest availability," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(8), pages 4221-4234, August.
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    6. French, David, 1986. "Confronting an unsolvable problem: Deforestation in Malawi," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 531-540, April.
    7. Hiemstra-van der Horst, Greg & Hovorka, Alice J., 2008. "Reassessing the "energy ladder": Household energy use in Maun, Botswana," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(9), pages 3333-3344, September.
    8. Blaikie, Piers, 2006. "Is Small Really Beautiful? Community-based Natural Resource Management in Malawi and Botswana," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 34(11), pages 1942-1957, November.
    9. Ribot, Jesse C. & Agrawal, Arun & Larson, Anne M., 2006. "Recentralizing While Decentralizing: How National Governments Reappropriate Forest Resources," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 34(11), pages 1864-1886, November.
    10. Masera, Omar R. & Saatkamp, Barbara D. & Kammen, Daniel M., 2000. "From Linear Fuel Switching to Multiple Cooking Strategies: A Critique and Alternative to the Energy Ladder Model," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 28(12), pages 2083-2103, December.
    11. Dewees, Peter A., 1995. "Trees on farms in Malawi: Private investment, public policy, and farmer choice," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 23(7), pages 1085-1102, July.
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    13. Campbell, Bruce & Mandondo, Alois & Nemarundwe, Nontokozo & Sithole, Bevlyne & De JonG, Wil & Luckert, Marty & Matose, Frank, 2001. "Challenges to Proponents of Common Property Recource Systems: Despairing Voices from the Social Forests of Zimbabwe," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 589-600, April.
    14. Lund, Jens Friis & Treue, Thorsten, 2008. "Are We Getting There? Evidence of Decentralized Forest Management from the Tanzanian Miombo Woodlands," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(12), pages 2780-2800, December.
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    Cited by:
    1. Jumbe, Charles B.L. & Angelsen, Arild, 2011. "Modeling choice of fuelwood source among rural households in Malawi: A multinomial probit analysis," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(5), pages 732-738, September.
    2. Maes, Wouter H. & Verbist, Bruno, 2012. "Increasing the sustainability of household cooking in developing countries: Policy implications," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 16(6), pages 4204-4221.

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