Gender Issues of Biomass Production and Use in Africa

Citation:

Farioli, Francesca, and Touria Dafrallah. 2012. “Gender Issues of Biomass Production and Use in Africa.” In Bioenergy for Sustainable Development in Africa, edited by Rainer Janssen and Dominik Rutz, 345–61. Dordrecht: Springer.

Authors: Francesca Farioli, Touria Dafrallah

Abstract:

Energy is a basic necessity for survival and a key input to economic and social development. In Sub-Saharan Africa access to modern energy remains very low and the energy situation is still heavily dependent on traditional biomass that accounts for 80–90% of the countries energy balances. Lack of energy services is correlated with many elements of poverty, such a low education levels, inadequate health care, and limited employment and income generation possibilities. The energy-poverty nexus has distinct gender characteristics. Of the approximately 1–3 billion people living in poverty, it is estimated that 70% are women, many of who live in female–headed households in rural areas. In Sub-Saharan Africa, women have challenging roles on the energy scene as they are in charge of supplying their households with energy amongst other subsistence activities. This chapter looks into the impacts of biomass production and use on women health and livelihood. Literature and research studies by institutions involved in bioenergy and indoor air pollution are considered (World Health Organization, Partnership for Clean Indoor Air, Energia Network, COMPETE, etc.). Current energy policies in Africa seem to ignore the gender dimension of energy, although providing rural women with an affordable, reliable and clean energy source is a priority to effectively alleviate poverty. For any energy policy aiming at poverty reduction it is absolutely crucial not to neglect the fact that men and women have different energy needs due to their traditionally different roles and responsibilities within the households, and due to the unbalanced access to resources and decision-making. Nevertheless, the gender dimension of energy often remains invisible to most policy-makers. In many African countries biofuels production has recently gained significant interest. Private companies are investing in biofuels opportunities, as Africa seems to offer a good environment (available land, cheap labour and favorable climate). Unfortunately, policy and regulatory frameworks are not established to monitor the emerging private initiatives on biofuels that seem to focus on exports. This might worsen gender issues as women are economically and socially vulnerable and might be the main group to get marginalized. This chapter identifies relevant policy options related to social aspects of biomass production and use, as well as a set of recommendations how to engender biofuels policies.

Keywords: energy poverty, MDGs, bioenergy, health, livelihood, gender mainstreaming, engendering energy policies, land access, food security, income generation, policy recommendations

Topics: Economies, Poverty, Education, Gender, Gender Mainstreaming, Health, Households, Infrastructure, Energy, International Organizations, Livelihoods, Security, Food Security Regions: Africa

Year: 2012

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