Most Kenyans still use firewood and charcoal - study says
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30 كانون1/ديسمبر 2016 Author :   Karitu Njagi
Carrying firewood

NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - Majority of Kenyans still prefer consuming ‘dirty’ fuel like charcoal and kerosene despite the country having made advances in clean energy access.

A new report says clean fuel technologies like the energy saving cook stoves have been successfully taken up by Kenyans, but more than 84 per cent of households still cling to traditional biomass for cooking and heating.

According to the 2016 poor people’s energy outlook report, 69 per cent of Kenyans use firewood, while 13 per cent prefer using charcoal.

This is exposing Kenyans to poor health, where over 15,000 deaths have been linked to household air pollution annually, says the report by Practical Action, an international development agency that lobbies for universal energy access.

“Women are the most affected by indoor pollution since they are responsible for domestic chores,” says Lydia Muchiri, the senior advisor on gender and energy at Practical Action, East Africa.   

Presently, about 2.25 million Kenyans own an improved cook stove, but the poorest segments of the community still prefer using the traditional three stones set and charcoal for cooking, the study found.

It links this trend to inability of the poor to afford clean energy technologies, even when some like cook stoves are subsidized by NGOs and development agencies.

“Fuel should be free, cheap or easy to obtain, while cooking solutions should not cause health problems,” says the report.

The Advocacy for Gender and Energy in Kenya (AGEK) lobby says the government should concentrate in creating micro and mini energy grids in rural areas to enable the poor access.

For instance, the report says focusing on traditional grids to power Kenya is a waste of time and money because these connections mostly serve factories and big enterprises.    

“Mini and micro energy grids provide more reliable power than national grids currently do, and would be speedily deployable, swinging the balance to favour rural economies,” argues Francis Muchiri, the communication and knowledge management officer at AGEK.

They can also accelerate enterprises in rural areas if Kenyans can access energy to power businesses in telecommunications, construction and agriculture, adds Muchiri.

Kenya has committed to reach the 80 per cent target for energy generation through renewables.

The Kenya Country Action Plan (CAP) targets the adoption of five million cookstoves by 2020. It predicts that with the same level of uptake, 58 per cent of households will be using improved cookstoves by 2030.


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