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How to Create a Sustainable Fuelwood Supply in Africa

In Zimbabwe, fuelwood provides 61% of the total energy supply required. It’s estimated that six million tonnes of fuelwood are consumed every year. So far government and development agencies have focused on the physical availability of fuelwood in their approach to energy and conservation. Based on this approach, diagnoses of problems and the designs for solutions have been largely based on simple models of supply and demand. But this approach ignores a critical factor – the power dynamics at play when it comes to accessing fuelwood. Demand for fuelwood and charcoal is often thought to be driving forest degradation. Fuelwood is seen as a resource that needs to be regulated. Many African countries depend on wood for fuel. About 81% of sub-Saharan African households use fuelwood for cooking. This is stoking concern about the links between fuelwood access, conservation and rural livelihoods.