Fuelwood Gathering and Use in Northern Kenya: Implications for Food Aid and Local Environments

CRSP:   |  Region:   |  Topic:   |  Database:

John McPeak

Type of Document:
Research Brief


Global Livestock CRSP, University of California- Davis

Date of Publication:
May 2003

Place of Publication:
Davis, CA


Abstract: As pastoral populations settle, there is concern about environmental impacts of sedentarization. In particular, fuelwood gathering can place intense pressure on local woody vegetation. We report preliminary findings from surveys of 87 pastoral households from three communities in northern Kenya conducted during 2000. The objectives was to characterize harvest and use of fuelwood resources. Households used approximately 19 kg of wood daily (largely Acacia spp.). Most wood was used to cook maize. Comparison with findings from an earlier study suggests household daily fuelwood use is increasing in this area. Human dietary shifts associated with increased market involvement and increased provision of food aid –namely moving from milk-dominated to maize-dominated diets–is hypothesized to explain this increase. Experiments were conducted in 2002 to assess amounts of wood needed to cook whole-grain maize versus maize flour, as food aid is distributed as whole-grain maize. Results indicated that twice as much wood was needed to cook whole-grain maize, suggesting that milling food aid prior to distribution could reduce demand for fuel, lower women’s labor, and mitigate pressure on woody species. Findings suggest alternatives such as distribution of milled food aid and other efforts will be needed to reduce demand for fuelwood.

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