Factors influencing the use of firewood post-electrification in rural South Africa: The case of Ga-Malahlela village
Keywords:Electricity; energy sources; firewood; free basic electricity; household energy use; rural households; socio-economic factors
Despite improved electrification rates and several government policies introduced to encourage rural households to switch from traditional to modern fuels, most South African households still rely on firewood for their energy needs. This study sought to assess the factors that influence the use of firewood in Ga-Malahlela village in the Limpopo province. To this end, a structured questionnaire was administered to 67 households. Microsoft Excel and the Statistical Package for Social Sciences were used to code and log in the data. The chi-square test was used to determine the relationship between the choice of energy source(s) and socio-economic factors. It was established that firewood was still widely used: by 61% of the participants for cooking, by 64% for space heating, and by 46% for water heating. For lighting, electricity was used by 98.5% of the participants, while liquefied petroleum gas was used by 1.5%. The dependency on firewood was mainly due to the socio-economic status of the surveyed households, which included income, education level, household size, and preference. Rural firewood reliance continues, due to socio-economic factors such as indigence, preference, and the inaccessibility of services like free basic electricity. It is therefore recommended that the Polokwane Local Municipality should play a part in assisting poor communities with cleaner, cost-effective fuel alternatives such as solar energy, biogas, and liquefied petroleum gas.
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