Wood fuel demand and supply in a rural set up: A Case of Naitiri Sub-location Bungoma District
This study addresses itself to rural energy supply and demand in a medium agricultural potential area which has a medium population density. The predominant source of rural domestic energy in the third world as a whole and in particular reference to the study area is woodfuel. These sources have however diminished leading to poverty and human hardship. This scarcity of woodfuel is evidenced by its commercialization and the greater use of crop residues as woodfuel substitutes. Efforts to correct the situation have not been very fruitful and it appears that this failure is due to lack of knowledge as regards the magnitude of the problem and the factors that determine the production and use of woodfuel. This study has therefore, endeavored first to establish the magnitude of woodfuel shortage, second the causes of woodfuel depletion, third the alternative sources of domestic energy that are available in the study area and the potential for introducing new ones examined and fourthly, the methods that can be used to conserve energy in the study area. It has been established that there is a woodfuel shortage of up to 21.5% in the study area and this has been projected to grow to 42% in the year 2008. The vicauses of this shortage have been identified, I,e.clearing trees for agriculture, increase in population hence use of wood for fuel mismanagement whereby supply is too far below demand hence the difference is obtained from the stock. The study has established the possibilities of increasing the production of woodfuel through agroforestry, woodfuel stands and biogas technologies. Besides increasing the woodfuel levels, these technologeis help to preserve and improve the environment. In addition, solar has been indentified as a possible source of energy but the high cost of solar equipment is a constraint. Wind was also considered but the study area does not have a highwindspeed to run wind mills. The study has also established that energy conservation is possible through the use of improved wood stoves. Following the research findings and the projections made policy recommendations have been prepared. These have been based on the major problems in the study area,i.e.'water and woodfuel. The three major recommendations are agroforestry systems woodfuel stands, energy conservation and revival of the water project. With the knowledge of the magnitude of the problem and its causes, the policies thus adopted will encourage public participation in the effective planning and implementation of the plans. Then through reduced resource depletion and increased availability of woodfuel hence energy rural development will be enhanced, and human hardship and poverty will be reduced accordingly. It is expected that the research methodology used in this study can be applied in similar medium agricultural potential areas with medium population density and therefore help in effective planning and implementing of woodfuel programmes hence alleviate the problems of resource depletion evidenced as woodfuel scarcity.