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For Applicants | Focus AreasZambia/ Technological and Social Alternatives to Charcoal Use and Production

Applicant Resources

Eligible Countries:


Additional Criteria for Applicants:

Please see Section V of the Solicitation for General Eligibility requirements.


Zambia has one of the highest deforestation rates in the world with an estimated 250,000 hectares lost per year. Deforestation is caused by an over-dependence on charcoal as the country’s primary source of household fuel, agricultural expansion, and growing populations, both urban and rural. The deforestation problem was recently exacerbated by a severe power crisis that led to extensive load-shedding (power outages), driving charcoal use up among urban households for both heating and cooking. Charcoal and firewood account for more than 70% of the national energy consumption, as only 25% of the population has access to electricity. Deforestation and forest degradation in Zambia is estimated to contribute 3% to total greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation worldwide. Illegal charcoal production is highest where human livelihoods are most insecure and where governance and law enforcement are weakest.

PEER is seeking to support applied environmental research to inform solutions that decrease charcoal-led deforestation. Proposed research projects must explicitly respond to, address, and inform opportunities for Zambia to implement alternatives to charcoal as a key household energy source. Zambia ultimately needs a set of technologies and institutions that reduce demand for wood and associated land use change that operate independently of external support (i.e., are sustainable and scalable). Proposed research projects should lead to development solutions that meet these criteria and have the potential to be sustainable and scalable. Proposed research projects can be either fully developed solutions or serve as a proof-of-concept for solutions or interventions that offer a likely path to sustainability. Possible areas of research include, but are not limited to:
  • Examine potential charcoal alternatives and their acceptability, affordability, comparability, scalability, and sustainability.
  • Explore viable alternative livelihoods for charcoal producers.
  • Determine barriers to market entry for liquified petroleum gas (LPG) and/or other alternative energy sources.
  • Comprehensive review of laws, policies, and regulations pertaining to charcoal production, use, and enforcement, including barriers to implementation.
  • Charcoal supply and demand analysis, including the use of GIS and geospatial analysis.
Proposals are additionally encouraged to include strategies for regional cooperation in reduction of charcoal use and illegal cross-border trade. USAID/Zambia is particularly interested in supporting research projects that involve collaborations with a wide range of stakeholders, including private sector partners, civil society organizations, and government entities, as well as projects that have the potential to inform government policy at the national and/or local level. The principal investigator should be based in Zambia, but PEER projects that include co-partners based in other PEER-eligible countries in Africa, particularly at universities and research organizations in Malawi, are highly encouraged. Women researchers are strongly encouraged to apply. Applications should build on existing scientific literature and analysis.

Applicants are encouraged to read USAID/Zambia’s development priorities as outlined in their Country Development Cooperation Strategy (PDF).