Changes in cooking fuel use portfolios and their determinants in communities around Bugoma Forest Reserve
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Biomass fuels (charcoal and high quality fuel wood) obtained from forests have for a long time been the primary sources of cooking energy for most households in rural Western Uganda. In the face of rapid forest disappearance, mainly due to agricultural expansion, there is potential to substitute the preferred high quality cooking fuel sources with readily available but poor sources to meet the ever increasing fuel resource needs at household level. The result is a variant in composition of fuel types used at the household level. The aim of this study was to determine the changes in fuel use portfolios and movement along the energy ladder in communities surrounding Bugoma forest reserve in Hoima and Kibaale districts of Western Uganda. Based on perceptions of respondents regarding changes in forest cover and quality, it was established that there was a high rate of deforestation in the region which led to a decrease in forest cover, area of the forest regarded as closed canopy, number of trees species and the number of large trees in the forest. Using panel survey data obtained from 180 households in Hoima and Kibaale districts in 2006 and 161 households in 2011, changes in cooking fuel use combinations at household level were examined and the findings revealed that 82% of the households had moved down the energy ladder by switching to inferior cooking fuels like low quality fuel wood obtained from the wild, crop residues and reeds, used in combination with high quality fuel wood but in much smaller quantities. None of the sampled households used cleaner fuels above charcoal on the energy ladder. It was also found that 70% of the households have a kitchen, 24% cook from open air while 6% cook from inside the primary home. The most commonly used cooking technology was the traditional three stone cooking stove, used by 92% of the households which used it to cook up to 96% of the meals for the households. The regression results of the Random Effects Probit model show that household size, age of the household head, distance to the edge of the forest and agricultural productivity are positively related with increased use of inferior fuels. Given the reduced availability of high quality fuel wood due to deforestation, the planting of trees for fuel wood, use of fuel saving stoves and alternative fuels like biogas are recommended to reverse the trend of switching to inferior cooking fuels.