Biofuel Consumption, Household Level Tree Planting and Its Implications for Environmental Management in the Northwestern Highlands of Ethiopia
- Eastern Africa Social Science Research Review
- Michigan State University Press
- Volume 21, Number 1, January 2005
- pp. 19-38
- Additional Information
Like many developing countries, rural Ethiopia heavily depends on biofuels. This dependency has been contributing to environmental degradation and food insecurity of the people. However, a comprehensive study has not been carried out to determine the quantity of biofuels consumed and to distinguish rural households' responses to growing scarcity of fuelwood. This would have helped the design of appropriate strategies for the development of the energy sector. This study analyses biofuel consumption patterns in four rural villages in the northwestern highlands of Ethiopia. The results indicate that fuelwood and cattle dung accounted for nearly 100% of the domestic energy consumption, with cattle dung contributing to some 34% of the total. Fuelwood and dung combined, the per capita biofuel consumption was estimated at 511.3kg per annum, with some variation between villages and socio-economic groups owing to differences in physical, environmental and socio-economic factors. Despite claims by some studies, the pressure on the supply trend has affected consumption of biofuels and necessitated improvisation on the part of users. And the scarcity of wood use for various purposes has forced households to plant trees. The number of trees planted by households showed variation between villages and the different socio-economic groups, owing to various physical and human factors. This (agro) forestry practice is a good short-term solution to the existing problem of fuelwood shortage. Since the practice also embodies multiple positive implications for environmental management and agricultural production it should to be encouraged. It is worth noting here that in promoting tree planting (agro) foresters and environmental management planners should take into account local level biophysical and socio-economic realities.