Evaluating factors influencing firewood consumption in households at the Thulamela Local Municipality, South Africa
A large part of the world’s population still depends on firewood for domestic energy needs. If appropriately used, firewood can be considered a renewable energy resource. However, in many rural areas it is burnt in the open and in poorly ventilated kitchens, emitting smoke which is potentially harmful to those exposed to it. Interventions such as wood gasification stoves and electricity seem to have failed. This study evaluated factors influencing firewood consumption in households at the Thulamela local municipality. A household survey collected data from the selected community and it was analysed with Statistical Package for Social Scientists. The chi-square test was used to measure the degree of association between two categorical variables. The study showed a statistically significant association between the source of energy used and gender, education of the household head, employment status, income level, and energy expenditure. The chi-square test determined the association between the variables as the significance level is less than the p-value. The results also indicated that household energy consumption is influenced by level of income, gender, educational level of household head, employment status, number of members employed in a household, and energy expenditure. These factors are linked and mutually dependent. It is recommended that the use of renewable energy and modern energy technologies, such as liquefied petroleum gas, biogas and solar, should be encouraged, with the assistance of the municipality. There is also a need to raise environmental awareness. It is through education that people’s perception, attitudes and behaviour towards firewood consumption practices can be changed.
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