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Cycle 7 (2018 Deadline)

Adoption and scale-up of charcoal alternatives in Zambia

PI: Francis Yamba (, Centre for Energy, Environment and Engineering Zambia (CEEEZ)
U.S. Partner: Robert Bailis, Stockholm Environment Institute – U.S. Center
Dates: November 2018 - October 2020

Project Overview:

Charcoal is a highly complex socio-environmental issue throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Charcoal production and use is frequently associated with climate change, environmental degradation, adverse health outcomes, and poverty. Strategies to mitigate reliance on charcoal as the dominant cooking fuel are urgently needed, particularly in areas where urban populations are growing and inefficient production systems are putting pressure on atmospheric and terrestrial systems. Zambia presents a critical case for understanding the supply and demand dynamics of charcoal and strategies for mitigating associated negative externalities. This project examines the potential of a dual-pronged approach to develop technical and social alternatives to charcoal in Zambia: improved charcoal production and alternative fuels and stoves.

This research is significant for several reasons. First, for any alternative stove or fuel to have an impact it must be not only acquired but also used in a way that reduces charcoal use. This study will demonstrate if this reduction occurs and whether it can be sustained and scaled up. Moreover, the study will include sample sizes with enough statistical power to demonstrate which options are more or less effective, so that policy-makers can be informed how to allocate scarce resources in the most effective way. Second, when interventions fail, it is tempting to shut down support and set them aside. However, success may be achievable with certain changes in design, dissemination, user training, or post-acquisition services. By working closely with stove/fuel developers, distributors, and users, this project team will identify factors that might be changed to enhance access to clean energy and reduce charcoal consumption. Third, with multiple U.S. Government-supported partners involved in several different regional collaborations, and primarily in partnership with the Stockholm Environmental Institute’s Africa Center, an influential regional think-tank, this research project has ties that spread throughout Southern and East Africa. These ties will foster cooperation and knowledge exchange well beyond Zambia, offering many opportunities to share experiences and lessons through workshops, conferences, and one-on-one meetings with high-level policy makers in Zambia and throughout the region. Other potential impacts are expected through exploration of the market potential for pellet fuels and ethanol. The project will further support enhanced job opportunities by collecting and sharing data about the types of stoves and fuels consumers prefer and their willingness to pay for charcoal alternatives.

Summary of Recent Activities

The period April to June was for pretesting of the data collection instruments and preparing for fieldwork. The PI and his team contacted the stove companies collaborating with them in the study, these are Vitalite and Supamoto, to help identify people that they could have Focus Group Discussions (FGD) with. The two companies provided information on names and contact numbers of possible participants whom they called to make arrangements for the FGD. In total four (4) FGDs were held comprising two with stove owners (of either Vitalite or Supamoto) and two with non- stove owners. The FGDs were held to assess and get feedback on the relevance of the questions in the data-gathering tool (i.e. questionnaire), how best to ask the questions, to check the translations (i.e. from English to Nyanja and Bemba) and if images used corresponded well with descriptions attached. The FGD also provided an insight into what they could expect when the study began. All the feedback obtained was used to make adjustments to the questionnaire. The FGDs took place from 4th to 6th June.

From May to June, they worked on recruiting enumerators; organizing training for the enumerators which involved the search of a suitable venue and preparing the materials for training. The training workshop was held from 24th to 28th June in Lusaka. Twenty-nine (29) enumerators were trained and sixteen were under the PEER project, while the rest were under PIER project. The training started with an introduction to the PEER/PIRE projects, which were been referred to as EPPSA ( European Power Plant Suppliers Association)/PEER, comprising the working team from CEEEZ, the Copperbelt University (CBU), University of North Carolina (UNC) and North Carolina State University that were present at the event. The trainee enumerators were then led through some of their roles and responsibilities in this study. The enumerators were introduced to the questionnaire modules in phase to ensure that they all understood them. Some activities like role-playing and translations were done by the trainees. A safety and security session was also included in the training. 

For July and August, fieldwork involving data collection through interviews, CO and PM/SUMS monitoring will be taking place in four selected areas in Lusaka. It is expected that data cleaning and data analysis will begin immediately afterwards. It is anticipated that the other component of the study which is a case study of the Charcoal production
associations will begin by September or October.

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