Energy consumption among rural households in Mukaro Location of Nyeri County, Kenya
The purpose of this study was to investigate energy consumption by rural households in Mukaro location, Nyeri County. Specifically, the study looked at wood fuel consumption and factors affecting wood fuel consumption. The study went further to identify the strategies adopted by households in dealing with reduced wood fuel availability as well as investigating if the strategies adopted had any environmental or socio-economic effects on the households. The research used the questionnaire as the main tool to collect data though other methods like interviews were applied. The study interviewed 138 households sampled using simple random sampling. The data collected was analyzed using inferential statistics. Hypothesis testing was done using chi-square, regression and qualitative analysis. The results of study showed that wood fuel was the major source of energy for rural households in Mukaro location, Nyeri County. Further, household income, distance travelled to access wood fuel as well as the household size determined the amount of wood fuel consumed by a household. The study also discovered that fuel wood was slowly becoming unavailable and as such households had developed various strategies to cope with reduced wood fuel availability. Among the major coping strategies indentified were use of twigs, reduction in consumption and increase in distance travelled to access wood fuel. The study found out that these coping strategies had some environmental and socio-economic effects on the rural households. They included reduced tree cover, more time spent in collecting fuel wood and increase in distance travelled to collect firewood. Though continued use of wood fuel contributed to reduced vegetation in the area, the study discovered that it was not the sole contributor to reduced vegetation; there were other factors like demand for timber and clearing land for farming. From the findings, the study recommends the following: increased recognition of wood fuel consumption as a source of energy by policy makers, expansion and diversification of household income streams to enable households transition to “green energy”, subsidies on energy saving jikos and fast growing tree seedlings in order to promote energy efficiency, conservation and agroforestry, concessions and credit availability of solar and biogas equipment to reduce on the high installation costs and encourage their use.