Basic energy facts Botswana
Fuelwood is the main source of biomass fuels used in Botswana.
According to the Botswana Energy Master Plan released in 2004, the majority of fuelwood is consumed by rural people. In 2000, a total of 1420,000 tons (22720 TJ) of fuelwood were consumed, 74.1% in rural households, 33.8% by government institutions and 20.3% in urban households. On average rural households consume about 402 kg/month more than twice the amount of urban households, which consume 186kg/month. 92% of all rural households use biomass.
Experts suggest that wood use in Africa will double by 2020 and Botswana is no exception. Population growth, lack of effective local resource management and a lack of regulation of fuelwood collection have led to over harvesting. Subsequently there has been an increased rate of desertification. This is not only problematic in terms of the environment, but also in achieving energy security for the lower income groups in Botswana.
Studies and woodland inventories conducted have shown trends of localized depletion of fuelwood resources around major settlements and this is resulting in energy poverty, particularly for the poor households that depend on the fuel and have to travel long distances to fetch fuelwood. Depletion of the wood resources is also of environmental concern.
Overview of the Demand Sector
When considering only the commercial energy sources (i.e. excluding fuelwood), the transport sector leads with 38.0% of all energy consumed, followed by mining (31.2%), government (9.5%), trade and hotels (7.3%) and manufacturing (7.0%) (Botswana Energy Master Plan 2004).
Household energy use drops to 5.5% of consumption as it predominantly depends on fuelwood.
The Agricultural and Construction sectors consume less than 1.5% - whether fuelwood is considered or not.
Fuelwood use in the towns (100-140 kg/month) is less than the urban villages (200-240 kg/month). On average in urban areas each household consumes 186 kg of fuelwood monthly. In comparison, each rural household uses an average 402 kg/month of fuelwood. There is an overall decline in quantity of fuelwood consumed in rural villages compared to surveys done 5 to 10 years ago. The level of use of fuelwood varies seasonally and 85% of the households indicated that they used less fuelwood in summer than winter, suggesting that most of the fuelwood is consumed in winter for the combined use of cooking and space heating.
Overview of the Supply Sector
Fuelwood is perceived as the cheapest energy option available to households and yet this may not be true when considering the time, resources and distance involved in the collection process. Fuelwood is traded by rural communities because of the low capital investment involved and the income that accrues from it, and yet traders do not account for environmental degradation caused by fuelwood harvesting. There is increasing evidence that fuelwood traders cut live trees to augment their stock. There is also no fuelwood pricing and tax mechanism in place to take into account the costs resulting from unsustainable harvesting of fuelwood.
Generally women and youth are more involved in fuelwood collection for subsistence use and they need to be empowered to manage the resource sustainably. They also bear the brunt of walking long distances and spending a long time fetching fuelwood.
Previous efforts to support sustainable supply of fuelwood and poles have not been very successful. Woodlots were established in several villages throughout Botswana, but were not successful because of a lack of incentives for the communities.
The prevailing situation is that biomass activities are fragmented in government institutions and NGOs. Previously, most of the responsibilities of biomass energy were allocated to the Ministry of Agriculture, and progress was limited as the Ministry had other responsibilities to look after.
Recent rural energy and community studies conducted in 2000 and 2001 indicated that where there is shortage of fuelwood, people are willing to use fuelwood efficient stoves and to switch to other fuels, however the cost of procuring such stoves or using these fuels is a barrier for them.
The policy goals for the biomass sub sector will be to:
- Promote sustainable use and harvesting of biomass energy,
- Collaborate with other key stakeholders on policies and
legislation supporting community based fuelwood management.
The following strategies will be adopted to achieve the above goals:
- Encourage use of efficient woodstoves suitable for household use by providing resources for Research & Development, evaluating suitable energy saving stoves that can be adapted to the Botswana situation and disseminating information on such fuelwood stoves,
- Establish and maintain an information system regarding fuelwood resources, demand, and price, and to provide concrete information that can support policy design,
- Stop fuelwood use by government institutions in urban areas and monitor fuelwood consumption in rural areas,
- Encourage fuel switching by households to non-wood energy sources through incentives and awareness on alternative fuels and the costs of using them,
- Investigate alternative sources of biomass fuel e.g. through allocation of special rights to collect fuelwood from forest and wildlife reserves; private sector participation in afforestation projects for fuelwood and timber, and importation of woodfuel,
- Promote "Community Based Fuelwood Management (CBFM)" for fuelwood production by providing funds for seed money to communities willing to engage in CBFM,
- Investigate measures for sustainable harvesting of fuelwood for commercial purposes by exploring experiences of other countries and those measures applied to other natural resources in Botswana,
- Build capacity in the government energy department to carry out biomass work by increasing the staff complement and continuing to improve the skills for development and correct interpretation of policies and legislation that affect biomass energy,
- Assess and strengthen current policies and legislation that can promote Community Based Fuelwood Management,
- Form a stakeholder working group with clear mandate to co-ordinate policies e.g. through the Natural Resource Technical Committee.
Biomass activities are fragmented in government institutions and NGOs. Previously, most of the responsibilities of the biomass energy were relegated to the Ministry of Agriculture, but progress was very minimal because implementation depended entirely on their plans. The new Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism should probably take a strong co-ordinating role in this regard.
Studies by different consultancies since 1992 (e.g. BEMP, 1996) have identified the need for the energy ministry's capacity to be upgraded, and its authority increased accordingly, to meet its mandate of formulating and directing the energy policy. These studies include the Reuter Mission Report (1992) and the previous BEMP (1996). Upgrading this ministry would be in keeping with practices in other countries of comparable complexity, where the energy sector is recognized as having a key role in economic productivity, welfare of the population, as well as strong environmental and sustainability implications.
In assessing the capacity requirements to direct the energy sector in an effective and efficient manner - which is the core objective of integrated energy poicies - the need for additional expertise is evident. In particular, the biomass-related capacity of government staff needs to be developed. The fields of policy analysis and legislation also need to be strengthened, and they should be in a position to influence the policy-making processes to incorporate fuelwood issues.
Develop a research agenda around key themes in coordination with key organisations.
Research and Development needs to direct and inform policies and programmes through strategic partnerships with research institutions. Such collaboration will ensure the efficient use of resources. Currently, communal open countryside is the major sources of fuelwood. However, excess wood resources exist in forest and wildlife reserves and access could be extended to nearby communities. Other sources may also include importing fuelwood from countries where management has reached a sustainable level. This measure is dependent on the Forest Act being revised to incorporate bulk fuelwood in the importation legislature. This measure would open up investigations on plantation establishment by the private sector to provide fuelwood and other wood resources.
Annually report on assessments of current and projected pollution to local, regional and global environments
Data collection on fuelwood resource status has been undertaken in the past, but further work is needed to ascertain the stocks of the entire country. It is important that the energy ministry be able to manage the database and to appropriately synthesize such data. Regular cyclic data collection needs to be undertaken to update the database so that adequate monitoring can take place.
Data on fuelwood is very scanty and most of the time outdated. Collection of data is mainly done through socio-economic surveys and data capturing through imagery. There is need for harmonization of data collection methods so that methodology is common for the region (Southern Africa) and hence making it possible to compare data within the region.