Malawi builds on PEI experiences to support the use of energy efficient stoves

When the Poverty-Environment Initiative kicked off in Malawi in 2009,it was noted that forest resources provide important livelihood opportunities for Malawians and that 93 % of the national energy demand is provided by firewood and charcoal. One of the few options to fuel rural households has been the burning of charcoal, which has led to higher rates of deforestation that may result in decreased livelihood opportunities from the forest.

To support the Ministry of Energy to demonstrate to other policy makers and donor agencies how the issue of burning charcoal in part can be addressed, PEI has supported the   production, marketing and distribution of energy efficient stoves and briquettes in 4 districts (Balaka, Dedza, Ntcheu and Machinga). The pilot projects were designed and implemented in close collaboration with local communities and authorities and in total 245 people has taken part in the trainings. Inspired by these pilot projects the Head of State and Government, Her Excellency Dr. Joyce Banda, in the first quarter of 2013, launched a similar initiative in Balaka district on briquette and energy efficient stove making with the target to produce 2 million energy efficient stoves under the national cook stove initiative. Banda said that “using the stoves, cooking takes less wood which in turn eases pressure on deforestation and lessens the burden on women and children who spend many hours gathering fuel wood.”

The government initiative aims to upscale efficient energy stoves and sustainable energy production with the support of Irish Aid and the United States Agency for International Development as an environmentally sustainable option for improving energy provision building on the experiences and lessons learnt from the Ministry of Energy-PEI supported pilot projects. The key lessons learnt were the need to intensify trainings on marketing as well as distribution of briquettes and energy efficient stoves as well as the importance of a monitoring and evaluation plan to follow up on the progress and challenges. Additionally, the government is now also looking at the charcoal chain with assistance from UNDP, from production to marketing to use, in order to make this more sustainable, while at the same time looking for other alternatives. For instance, the Ministry of Energy is now exploring alternative measures such as the use of rice straw and dry leaves to ensure the sustainable utilisation of the technology And government is scaling up its renewable and energy saving programmes with help of several development partners, including UNDP and the US backed Millennium Challenge Corporation.

At the policy level, PEI is supporting the Department of Forestry to review the 1996 National Forestry Policy to better reflect the current links between forest resources and the livelihoods of the poor including access to energy.In the first quarter of 2013 the revised policy was presented to a taskforce for comments and it is set to be presented at a national validation workshop in the second quarter of 2013.

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