Rural households’ response to Fuelwood scarcity around Kakamega Forest, Western Kenya
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The debate on forest degradation in Kenya is mainly concerned with the utilization and exploitation of forest resources. Of particular interest is fuelwood, whose scarcity is a major forest degradation concern. Fuelwood gathered from the forested commons is the most important source of domestic energy in the rural areas of many developing countries. For the case of Kakamega, as shown by this study, there is a declining trend in the availability of fuelwood. Despite this state, rural households still depend largely on it for energy provision in the face of limited options constrained by low capital base. This study sought to examine how these households cope with the existing scarcity of fuelwood. The study employed both primary and secondary sources of data. For primary data, a total of 140 households were selected and interviewed using semi-structured questionnaires. Response mechanisms were analyzed through descriptive methods by looking at collection attributes, use patterns and fuel saving technologies applied by households. Majority of households in Kakamega have resorted to planting trees on their own farms to ease problems of fuelwood shortage. Findings further reveal that households in their endeavor to circumvent the problem of continued scarcity, have resorted to poorer quality tree/bushes for fuelwood, alongside other innovative methods of responding to the fuelwood scarcity. With improved economic well being, households become less reliant on forests for their livelihoods. Since reduced forest reliance is positively related with reduced demand for forest products, the findings suggest complementarities between strategies aimed at poverty alleviation and those towards forest conservation.
- Faculty of Agriculture