Biomass stoves recently implemented in some districts in Tanzania, has revealed that successful use of the constructed 13,301 units can reduce firewood consumption. 

Indeed, 6,651 household each with two stoves reduced firewood consumption from 39,906 cubic meters through using unimproved stove to 19,952 cubic meters.

The monetary value for the wood saved per annum based on current firewood prices in Kwimba, Ukerewe and Moshi district (200,000/- per cubic m) is around 2.5bn/- or 1,256,945 US dollars.

Mr Bariki Kaale says that reduction of 19,952 cubic m of firewood from the pilot villages can minimise firewood harvesting from woodlands that could result to conservation of over 998 ha of woodlands.

Biomass energy, including charcoal, is used to meet 90 percent of Tanzania’s energy needs. Some 70 percent of households in the capital of Dar es Salaam use charcoal, accounting for about half of the country’s total charcoal consumption.  Charcoal production in Tanzania’s economy is valued at about US$650 million per year, and the industry provides work for some 300,000 households. Unfortunately, the charcoal trade is dominated by a small group of politically connected entrepreneurs in the informal trade, with most of the wood harvested unsustainably from woodlands 200 km from urban markets.

Sending to new seedlings in a WWF funded nursery, Madagascar. Supply of sustainable fuel wood from plantations will reduce pressure on natural forests. © WWF / John E. Newby

The added investments required to make this trade sustainable would likely raise the price of charcoal for poor urban households, who already spend a large proportion of their income on energy. While isolated stove interventions are not likely to resolve Tanzania’s charcoal fuel production and distribution issues, improved charcoal stoves can reduce charcoal demand and thus lessen unsustainable harvesting and contain fuel costs at reasonable levels for poor families. Source: World Bank (2009a).

Women groups interviewed in the study confirmed that the stoves have provided various tangible benefits contributing to rapid improvement of their livelihood. Some of the benefits stated include reduction of firewood collection and use.

With 3 stone stove, the women reported that they used to collect at least two head loads of firewood (each weighing around 25-30 kg) and using around 8 hours per round trip or 16 hours per week.

Now they are collecting only one head load of firewood per week hence saving almost 50 per cent of firewood and around 8 hours.

UNDP is working with the government to provide more efficient cooking stoves so that people will not have to collect and burn so much firewood. The new stoves emit less smoke indoors – improving overall public health – and, in addition, women like Stella can spend more time with their children or launch a second income stream.

UNDP trained 80 young men and women to construct firewood stoves using clay soil and sand. In 2011 they constructed 7,500 stoves and, in turn, have trained more than 350 other villagers to do the same. If the 7,500 improved stoves are used well they will reduce annual firewood consumption from 27,000 tonnes to 13,500 tonnes.

This confirms that the improved biomass stoves have reduced smoke in the kitchen hence reducing indoor pollution. Depending on kitchen management, cooking time for most food types has been reduced by around 40 per cent, while incidences of children burns in the kitchen have also been reduced.

Tanzania loses more than 400,000 hectares of forest through deforestation and fires every year. The Uluguru Mountains are part of the Eastern Arc mountain range, which stretches over many kilometers to the country’s border with Kenya.
A project is showing the people who live there  how to farm more efficiently without resorting to slash-and-burn methods to clear new land. Seventy percent of the original forest has already been lost.

See some some more selected experiences here.

Source: Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

See more:

* More countries adopting biomass stoves

* 5 reasons to cultivate renewable biomass

Tanzania – Cost saving and reducing deforestation through energy saving stoves, Kiroka village, Morogoro (2014)

Food security and biofuels, the problem is not land availability but yields

Best examples on how biomass can avoid deforestation and improve food security

* Climate change adaptation and lignocellulosic energy crops

* World Bank full report on Cooking stoves (2011)

* Daily Life in Tanzania Improved by JIP Promotion

* GVEP report on cooking stoves, experiences in East Africa

Feasture Photo credit: SNV