Energy, rural livelihoods, natural resources
This is a very overdue update, but better late than never…
In August, I had my first paper published in peer review. For those of you reading this who aren’t in academia, this is big stuff. Very exciting, breaking news, hot hot hot, #proud.
I’ve written about the study in a previous dubunking myth post, explaining that charcoal middlemen are not always a rich, political elite. But, given that it is now a legitimate peer-reviewed research article in its own right, I felt that it deserved an additional fanfare.
Unfortunately, due to copy right issues I can’t just plonk the entire paper on here. However, you can download it here but you might have to pay for it… sorry
In the mean time, here’s the abstract:
The charcoal industry in sub-Saharan Africa plays a substantial role providing growing urban populations with domestic energy. However, concerns about its environmental impacts have led to punitive policies, resulting in the criminalisation of charcoal-based livelihoods. One factor constraining the development of more effective policy approaches is limited data on the impacts of regulations on the socio-economic outcomes of different value chain actors. We focus on one group of actors: charcoal transporters, who supply charcoal to Zomba, a medium-sized city in Southern Malawi. Drawing on a survey of 201 transporters, we find that they are attracted by fast cash-in-hand, low capital requirements and the lack of alternative local employment opportunities. Both men and women participate, yet transport methods are gendered. Men, who typically transport charcoal on a bicycle, earn three times as much per week as those who carry charcoal on their heads, the main method used by women. However, bicycle users incur higher financial risk due to costs associated with confiscations and damage to bicycles. Unlike in larger cities, an urban elite does not dominate the supply chain in Zomba. We argue that punitive targeting of small-scale charcoal transporters serves only to push them deeper into poverty and does nothing to contribute to sustainable resource management.
If you want to know more, please get in contact!