Adoption of energy-conservation technologies by rural households in Kathiani division Machakos district.
Karanja, Lydia Njeri
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The crisis of declining availability of domestic fuel and its perceived link with environmental degradation continues to influence extensive investment in the design of energy-conserving technologies and the promotion of new forms of forestry management. These initiatives have drawn strength and impetus from the growing awareness of gender issues, along with the recognition that women tend to be affected first and most strongly by fuel shortages. Although numerous programmes have been started in Kenya to increase supply of domestic fuel, namely, planting woodlots, agro forestry, improvement of the efficiency of kilns, and use of energy-saving stoves, fuel shortages continue to be severe especially in arid and semi-arid areas. This study set out to determine factors influencing adoption or non-adoption of energy-conserving technologies in a rural setting of Kathiani Division of Machakos District. Using random sampling, a sample of ninety households was drawn to establish the said factors through the analysis of data collected by means of questionnaires. Interviews were also conducted to gather information from key informants, namely, the Home Economics Extension Officer, and the Rural Afforestation Officer of Kathiani Division. The survey data analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). This study established that factors such as: age, educational level, income level, family size, time, and occupation influence energy sources used. The findings also showed that adoption of energy-conserving technologies was influenced by age, educational level, occupation, time, income level and distance traveled to energy source in the study area. For instance, respondents from low-income households who cannot afford to buy energy-saving devices tend to use technologies that do not efficiently conserve firewood, compared to those from high-income households who adopted more efficient energy-saving devices, such as the Kuni Mbili, Maendeleo and Kenya Ceramic jikos. From the study findings, it is evident that rural households acknowledge advantages of using energy-saving devices, namely, the conservation of heat (otherwise lost by open-fire), which leads to the reduction of firewood used. However, an equally high number of the respondents used technologies that did not conserve fuel, such as, the Charcoal Metal Jiko and the Traditional three-stone fire. Not only is the adoption of energy-conserving technology low, but also the sustenance of the already adopted technologies is equally low. Non-adoption was attributed to a combination of factors. The study findings revealed a problem of lack of awareness of energy-saving technologies and recommends the need to train more extension workers to create awareness and encourage the adoption of energy-saving devices, through demonstrations, persuasions, workshops and seminars. Also rural households should be assisted to purchase clay-liners for effective construction of Kuni mbili and Maendeleo Jikos. On the issue of energy policy, the study established that if existing policies were properly implemented, then there could emerge opportunities to promote the dissemination of energy-conserving technologies. For instance, the provision of credit facilities for households to construct Kuni Mbili and Maendeleo Jikos and use of demonstration centres to educate rural households on the importance of energy-saving devices. On future research options, there is need to investigate wood production and consumption patterns under a rural scenario and to introduce alternative sources of energy. These include, solar energy in rural areas, which are not connected to national power grid line, biogas for domestic energy and tree-planting programmes for sustainable environmental protection. Such research could enable the government to develop workable renewable energy policies and achieve the goals of sustainable development.