Fuelwood is still the primary source of energy for one third of the world’s population. For an average rural woman in Africa, this means having to collect fuel once a week and carry it for miles – just to be able to cook dinner.
A new report by SIANI, Swedish International Agricultural Network Initiative, highlights the link between energy access and food security in sub-Saharan Africa. Improving energy access and solving certain problems associated with fuelwood would decrease malnutrition and allow women more time to work and develop the economy. It would also decrease the amount of deforestation.
Finding a solution to the dependence on fuelwood needs to include both an introduction to clean, efficient cooking technologies and increased tenure rights for women so they can plant and own trees. SIANI’s report says that the forestry sector has a key role to play in supporting these efforts.
Securing cleaner, more efficient fuel would have both local and global benefits. Household air pollution is the second major health hazard in sub-Saharan Africa, and cooking smoke is one of the most important contributors to climate change.