On December 7, two faculty members, Wasiq Khan, and Ms. Sicy Francis, both of the Economics Department, held a joint presentation on the final result of a survey they conducted in conjunction with Standard Micro Finance Bank in 2017.
The survey assessed 350 households within Yola and Jimeta communities and sought to ascertain whether residents need cleaner cooking technologies and solar lamps and if they are able and willing to pay for these products with microloans?
Dr. Khan said the initiative was facilitated by some funding to the microfinance bank from the United Nations Environment Program in conjunction with Climate Clean Miracle Coalition.
"They are very interested in introducing clean energy sources to Northeast Nigeria, an area where 95 percent of the population depends on wood and coal usually for cooking and more than 40 percent has no access to electricity."
Using charcoal, dung, or wood as a form of energy emits black carbon which is the most harmful form of carbon. This is a particularly problematic issue in the area of cooking. "In 1990, about 46 percent of the world's population depended on solid biomass like coal, dung, and wood as a primary source of household energy. However, in Africa, the use of wood as household energy has increased since then”.
He said this is “a critical situation because it is one of the most stubborn issues in development.” "A lot has been done to lower poverty. For instance, the number of people living with poverty has gone from 1.6 billion to 600 million since 2000, but when it comes to getting people to stop cooking with wood and solid biomass fuels, we achieved virtually no progress."
The survey which also aims at “mitigating climate change focused on Northeast Nigeria because a majority of the population has no electricity and have depended on wood and other materials for energy.
Another important aspect of the survey is the effect of toxic energy on health which, Dr. Khan says, is the leading cause of premature deaths in the world today. "Depending on the source, you can find between 2.6 to 3.8 million people die prematurely every year because of household air pollution. Most of these deaths are caused by solid biomass fuel like wood in cooking, often in a poorly ventilated room, and mostly women and children fall ill with eye problems, asthma, and pneumonia which are deadly.
He argued that the survey “is also of extreme importance in the area of deforestation. About 50 percent of deforestation in developing countries can be blamed on people collecting wood from the forest for cooking”. "Africa is a region where deforestation is proceeding at a rapid pace. Nigeria, for instance, is expected to lose all of its forest by 2052. Between 1990 and 2015, it has lost about 35 percent."
“The result of the survey indicated that as a result of the overbearing health issues caused by using biomass energy, many would welcome the idea of cleaner energy and would accept loans to facilitate it.”
Despite ‘some uncertainty from the bank concerning an undue amount of risks in the supply chain of stoves and ovens,’ Dr. Khan concludes that there is “much interest towards moving forward with the solar-powered lamps to rural areas that have no electricity.”
Reported by Tina Bitrus