Saving Africa’s Tropical Forests with LPG Stoves: A Randomized Controlled Trial in Tanzania

Dr. Yonas Alem, University of Gothenburg

The production of charcoal to meet cooking needs of urban households is one of the main causes of deforestation and degradation of Africa’s tropical forests which offer significant carbon sequestration capacity to the global economy. In collaboration with a reputable local microfinance institution, we designed a randomised controlled trial in urban Tanzania and offer LPG stoves through subsidy and on credit to measure their impact on charcoal consumption and the corresponding reduction in deforestation. We also investigate the impact of the stoves on cooking time of women, who are the default cooks of the household. We find that, relative to households in the control group, adoption of LPG stoves reduced charcoal consumption by about 30% in the treatment group 15 months after the intervention. However, providing subsidies for stove purchases resulted in a larger reduction in charcoal use (34%) than did providing access on credit (25%). LPG owning households also managed to reduce cooking time by about 69% 15 months after the intervention. We highlight the importance of relaxing households’ financial constraints and improving access to credit to encourage urban households to switch to clean energy sources and save the remaining forest resources of Africa.

About the speaker

I am an economist applying microeconomics and econometrics to research on a range of topics related to poverty, economic development, and the environment in developing regions of the world, with a larger focus on Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. In my previous work, I used applied econometrics (largely panel data methods and randomized field experiments) to research the impact of shocks on household welfare, poverty dynamics and to investigate the determinants of technology adoption. In collaboration with a number of colleagues and graduate students, I’m continuing my research on technology adoption, the impact of uninsured risk on household outcomes, decision-making, as well as, the dynamics of well-being, and household energy choice in developing and emerging countries. I currently work as the Director for Academic Programs run by the EfD Network, with a particular responsibility of managing the Collaborative PhD Programs the Department of Economics, University of Gothenburg runs with two African Universities - Addis Ababa University and University of Rwanda.

Venue: 0.16/0.17

Date: 17 October 2019

Time: 12:00 - 13:00  CET