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Coping with Fuel Wood Scarcity: Household Responses in Rural Ethiopia


  • Abebe Damte

    () (Department of Economics, University of Pretoria)

  • Steven F. Koch

    () (Department of Economics, University of Pretoria)

  • Alemu Mekonnen

    (School of Economics, Addis Ababa University)


This study examines the coping mechanisms applied by rural households in the face of fuel wood scarcity by using survey data from randomly selected rural households in Ethiopia. The determinants of collection of other biomass energy sources were also examined. The results of the empirical analysis show that rural households residing in forest-degraded areas respond to fuel wood shortages by increasing their labour input to fuel wood collection. However, for households in high forest cover regions, forest stock and forest access may be more important factors than scarcity of fuel wood in determining household’s labour input to fuel wood collection. The study also finds that there is limited evidence of substitution between fuel wood and dung or fuel wood and crop residues. Therefore, supply-side strategies alone may not be effective in addressing the problem of forest degradation and biodiversity loss. Any policy on natural resource management, especially related to rural energy, should make a distinction between regions with different levels of forest degradation.

Suggested Citation

  • Abebe Damte & Steven F. Koch & Alemu Mekonnen, 2011. "Coping with Fuel Wood Scarcity: Household Responses in Rural Ethiopia," Working Papers 201125, University of Pretoria, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:pre:wpaper:201125

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Chen, Le & Heerink, Nico & van den Berg, Marrit, 2006. "Energy consumption in rural China: A household model for three villages in Jiangxi Province," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 407-420, June.
    2. Gregory Amacher & William Hyde & Keshav Kanel, 1999. "Nepali fuelwood production and consumption: Regional and household distinctions, substitution and successful intervention," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(4), pages 138-163.
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    4. Dewees, Peter A., 1989. "The woodfuel crisis reconsidered: Observations on the dynamics of abundance and scarcity," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 17(8), pages 1159-1172, August.
    5. Cooke, Priscilla A, 1998. "Intrahousehold Labor Allocation Responses to Environmental Good Scarcity: A Case Study from the Hills of Nepal," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 46(4), pages 807-830, July.
    6. Palmer, Charles & Macgregor, James, 2009. "Fuelwood scarcity, energy substitution, and rural livelihoods in Namibia," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 14(06), pages 693-715, December.
    7. 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.
    8. van 't Veld, Klaas & Narain, Urvashi & Gupta, Shreekant & Chopra, Neetu & Singh, Supriya, 2006. "India's Firewood Crisis Re-examined," Discussion Papers dp-06-25, Resources For the Future.
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    Cited by:

    1. Scheurlen, Elena, 2015. "Time allocation to energy resource collection in rural Ethiopia: Gender-disaggregated household responses to changes in firewood availability:," IFPRI discussion papers 1419, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    2. St. Clair, Priscilla Cooke, 2016. "Community forest management, gender and fuelwood collection in rural Nepal," Journal of Forest Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 52-71.
    3. Guta, Dawit Diriba, 2014. "Effect of fuelwood scarcity and socio-economic factors on household bio-based energy use and energy substitution in rural Ethiopia," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 75(C), pages 217-227.

    More about this item


    Fuel wood; labor allocation; biomass; rural Ethiopia;

    JEL classification:

    • Q12 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Micro Analysis of Farm Firms, Farm Households, and Farm Input Markets
    • Q21 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Demand and Supply; Prices
    • Q42 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Alternative Energy Sources

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