Firewood scarcity challenges faced by rural women in Rwanda

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Kampala International University, School of Engineering and Applied Science
The pattern and profile & energy use prevailing today raises important questions about linkages between energy and the economy, social issues, security and above all, environmental protection. Rwanda has a number of potential energy resources from blomass, hydro, solar, petroleum, methane gas, wind and geothermal. However, the major Issue in this regard Is the technological exploitation and scientific data on this potential. The widespread and inefficient use of traditional blomass with low technologies and methods like the three stones stove for wood, coupled with inefficient kllns for charcoal, contributes to the overexploitatlon of forest stocks, environmental degradation, and health problems. The study was mainly a field survey carried out in Ruklra sector of Ngoma District, Eastern Province in Rwanda. The objectives of the study were: to assess the challenges faced by Rwandan rural women in gathering fuel wood as a source of energy, to identify the different energy sources used for lighting and cooking, to establish the scientific firewood scarcity in the study area and to find out the environmental consequences of using firewood. A number of research instruments were used in the study: Questionnaires, Interviews, observations and review of related literature. The sampling technique used was systematic purposive sampling to ensure that all the targeted population was fully and objectively involved in the study. The major findings of the study are that the sources of energy used for cooking and lighting in rural areas are dry wood, charcoal, crop residues, paraffin, candle and biogas. The causes of firewood decrease are population growth, insufficient forests, lack of land for tree plantation and poverty, among others. lime consuming, heavy woridoads, lack of access to education or to income generating activities and exposure to Indoor air pollution are among the challenges faced by rural women. The main environmental impacts associated with firewood use and collection are forest destruction, soil erosion and indoor air pollution. Finally, the study reveals that sustaining our environment is crucial for both present and future generations and thus all attempts aiming at soMng energy problems in rural areas must involve women for their success.
A Thesis Presented to the School of Postgraduate Studies and Research Kampala International University Kampala, Uganda in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Science in Environmental Management
Firewood scarcity challenges, Rural women, Rwanda