Although cooking consumes the lion’s share of energy in most of sub-Saharan Africa, it is rarely a concern of ministries of energy, which understandably tend to focus on improving access to electricity. However, it is becoming increasingly widely recognised that cooking on inappropriate stoves or fires can have serious implications for the health of women and children, and that non-sustainable forestry leads to a scarcity of fuelwood and charcoal. What is less widely appreciated is the major contribution made by fuelwood and charcoal to national economies, and the significant options that exist for using and exploiting these resources on a more sustainable basis.
The EU Energy Initiative Partnership Dialogue Facility (EUEI PDF), along with the GIZ’s (formerly GTZ) Household Energy Programme has helped national governments to develop strategies to promote a sustainable supply and demand of fuel for cooking in Lesotho, Botswana, Malawi and Rwanda. The lessons learned from this initiative and the key factors in its success were explored in a workshop attended by experts from these countries. The result was a set of revised general guidelines for implementing these kinds of strategies. The guidelines have been published and widely distributed. They provide a foundation for similar strategies requested by the governments of Mozambique, Tanzania and Ethiopia.