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WHO estimated global mortality rate due to indoor pollution to be 7.7%; a percentage that was more than from Malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS combined yet it a widespread health risk that was overlooked by the society (WHO, 2016). Further WHO, (2016) established that household indoor pollution was a health risk factor and a silent killer worldwide whereby Women, girls and children were the most affected by particulate matter pollution from cooking fuels. Emerging evidence on household air pollution problems included stillbirths, low birth weight, cervical cancer, tuberculosis, and upper respiratory infections (WHO, 2016).
The use of firewood may be classified as 'high risk' open fire accident. Interestingly, only smoke was reported in this study indicating that the Ministry of Health had a big role in creating awareness of health risk factors associated with traditional sources of energy used by rural households in Muusini Location.
Firewood and charcoal burning have led to land degradation because indigenous trees take long to grow in arid and semi-arid areas.
Charcoal production was found to have negative impact on forest goods such as fruits, medicine, and water quality, control of soil erosion, biodiversity, and carbon sequestration especially where the trees were slow growing like semi- arid and arid areas (Neufeldt et al., 2015). This study revealed evidence of bare land, soil erosion and loss of biodiversity at the site of the study as demonstrated by plate 5.3.
Mandelli et al, (2014) found that cooking took place in houses and contributed to indoor pollution. Gases produced included Carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen, respirable particles, surfur, benzene polyaromatic compounds, formaldehyde, and 1, and 3 butadiene.
The gases caused environmental and health burdens at local levels. The same practice was confirmed by our study because cooking took place in kitchens but the participants did not report indoor air pollution except smoke.
Previous studies like (Austin and Mc Cathy 2016; WHO, 2016) established that there was time wastage, risk of injuries and assaults during firewood collection by women and children. None of the respondents in the current study was aware of the risks or time wasted by the children or women while collecting firewood confirming that inequality labor issues may continue if not addressed immediately.
Charcoal burning releases greenhouse gases to the atmosphere at local level. Africa is at the top in emitting such gases, with Somalia leading in charcoal production. Charcoal production downgrades woodlands and the areas are subjected to reduced ecosystem services. In our study it was observed that land degradation was common as discussed in 3.3. In Kenya, wood fuel is in high demand. It was estimated that Kenya requires 35 million tons yearly yet the supply was 15 million tons. The high demand has led to deforestation and land degradation. (Vezzoli et al., 2018; Specht et al., 2015) reported native forest degradation in Brazilian Atlantic forest due to high demand of fuel wood. According to (Specht et al., 2015), wildlife manager had ignored human modified landscapes that had changed the natural habitat. Mensah and Adu (2013) observed that there was deforestation that led to soil erosion, loss of natural habitat and was comparable with our study's observations especially where clearing of shrubs led to bare land.
In Kenya, charcoal production creates jobs for approximately 1.6 million people. In Kajiado, County, charcoal was found to be transported to urban centers such as Nairobi. The charcoal producers were found to be exploited by charcoal businessmen who bought the charcoal at a low price and transported it to urban centers. In Kenya, charcoal gives approximately US $ 1.6 billion. Semi-arid areas are sources of charcoal; for example Somalia was found to be the top producer of charcoal used by Gulf States. Acacia nilatia trees and other hard semi-arid areas wood species are endangered in Somalia by the high rate of charcoal production (Zalengera et al., 2014; Neufeldt et al., 2015; Kariuki et al., 2017). In this study, respondents reported extinction of some plant species due to charcoal/ firewood use. Our study established that hardwood trees were preferred because they produced quality charcoal. Okoko et al., (2017) reported similar results in evaluating tree species used by charcoal producers in Kitui and Moshi. The respondents reported that they preferred indigenous tree that produce heavy charcoal but were slow in growing and vulnerable to extinction as a result of overexploitation. Bonjour et al., (2015) reported that the use of fuel wood was in the decline between 1980 and 2010 from 62 percent to 42 percent with exception of Africa but the number of household who were utilizing fuel wood remained the same.
Some studies do not support the evidence of forest degradation as a result of firewood and charcoal for example studies carried out in Congo, Senegal and Mozambique (Neufeldt et al., 2015; Mandelli et al., 2018). According to Bhatt et al., (2016), other activities were responsible for deforestation other than wood fuel. In Eastern Himalayas, grazing, urban development, and cultivation led to deforestation. The scholars argued that increase in population and agriculture were the major causes of land degradation and deforestation. The studies further argued that some tree species regrow after disturbance and household firewood came from dead, dying or dry trees. In areas of commercial charcoal supplies, reforestation was possible after extraction for example in Philippines.
Plate 5.3: Photo illustrating a degraded land due cutting of native shrubs at the study area.
5.6: Impacts of the over utilization of sources of wood fuel
Charcoal and firewood have led to bare land causing land degradation at local level. The plants in Muusini Location take a long period to grow. Frequent droughts have affected land cover and tree regeneration is difficult. Grazing and heavy rains expose the bare land to soil erosion leaving the land infertile or gullies. Bare land causes dust when it is windy, a challenge for those who wish to install solar PV systems. Use of solar energy for cooking can reduce extinction of plants reported by the respondents.
According to Mengistu et al., (2015) over 90 percent of rural households in Ethiopia and Cameroon rely on traditional biomass for cooking. For example in Ethiopia rural households in Amhara and Tigray use dung because of fuel wood scarcity, because the demand exceeds the supply. Mengistu et al., (2015), argued further that Ethiopia had untouched renewable energy sources and those exploited, were not fully utilized. In this context, our study revealed the same results that solar energy was not fully exploited in Muusini location.
According to Sakiliba et al., (2015), 77% of energy in Gambia came from firewood, 21% from petroleum and 2% from electricity. Studies by (Veremachi, et al, 2016; Jadhav et al, 2017) found that over 80% households in Mozambique and Malawi used biomass for cooking which was becoming scarce as a result of change in land use. Our findings were similar and some respondents reported that it had become difficult in collecting enough firewood for cooking in their farms. Kemausuer's study (2016), found out that all households in Zimbrama community lacked clean energy for cooking. Zambrama community used three stones technique for cooking and was similar to the cooking techniques used in our study as discussed in chapter three
Previous studies from African countries reported similar results of wood fuel as the major source of energy for cooking for example in Malawi firewood was a major source of energy for cooking with 88 percent (Zalengera et al, 2014). This was higher than in our study were firewood contributed to 75 percent of the total energy source for cooking. Another study carried out in Nigeria by Ogwumike and Ozughah (2015), found that the use of firewood for cooking contributed to 68.98% of the total sources of energy for cooking. A study carried out by Mensah and Adu (2013) in Ghana showed similar findings that fuel wood was the main source of energy for cooking in rural households with 56.1 percent which was lower than Muusini households. The studies confirm that traditional sources of energy are the main source of energy for cooking. Africa, was ranked number one in using polluting sources of energy World Health Organization (WHO, 2016). According to WHO (2016) analysis, about 80% of rural households depend on biomass for cooking and in Africa; approximately 95% rely on biomass while 62% in South Asia rely on biomass.
In Turkey fuel wood was the primary source of energy for cooking and was tradable. In India, 63% of rural households used firewood for cooking, 23% crop residue, and 11% used liquid
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