Item Details

Title: Charcoal provision in the informal settlements of Kampala: charcoal practices and the value chain.

Date Published: 2018
Author/s: Marc Balder
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Charcoal is the main energy source for cooking in the informal settlements of Kampala, where few
alternatives are available. Using a practice-based approach, the first half of this study details the key
role that charcoal plays in the informal settlements and how it is incorporated in cooking practices,
as well as the vulnerabilities being faced in these settlements. Life in the informal settlements is
often characterised by uncertainty, an absence of reserves and limited resilience. For these
communities, changes in the availability and cost of charcoal could have significant ramifications.
Such disruptive changes in charcoal provision are already ongoing with rapidly increasing
prices, and are likely to become far more disruptive in the near future unless the charcoal sector is
overhauled. As the second half of this study details, current practices in the charcoal sector are
unsustainable and rapidly exhausting limited forest resources. The regulative framework for the
charcoal sector is fragmented and haphazardly applied. The sector mostly operates informally and
fails to take into account long-term environmental costs. In its current guise, few incentives exist for
actors in the charcoal sector to invest in more sustainable practices. If the status quo is maintained,
the long-term impact of unsustainable charcoal practices will be strongly felt not only by the rural
communities due to the loss of ecosystem services in the areas of environmental degradation, but
also in the informal settlements of Kampala where charcoal acts as the lynchpin holding together
the practice of cooking. As such, energy (in)security in the informal settlements is intrinsically
linked to food and water security, and therefore requires an integrated cross-sectoral response.