Kerosene and LPG is affordable for many upper- and middle-level households but further
improvements in pricing and delivery (particularly of LPG) are required to enable households lower on
the income scale to make the switch away from traditional fuels. See Kerosene and Liquid Petroleum
Gas (LPG) Practical Action Technical Brief.
Electricity is not a potential substitute for woodfuels. Although electricity is affordable and practical
in many areas for lighting, communications, and possibly for refrigeration, few households, rural or
urban, will be able to afford to cook with electricity if it is priced at cost-reflective tariffs.
Improved charcoal kilns require some capital outlay but also require better understanding and
control of the carbonization process. Drying of wood, better stacking methods, and better process
control, in combination with a chimney to force inverted draught, can greatly increase carbonization
efficiency. However, they takes more time and effort to prepare the kiln and control the carbonization
In areas where wood is feely available traditional charcoal makers may not have an incentive to
improve their production and may use several traditional kilns. Increasing the efficiency of charcoal
production requires regulatory measures, systematic training, and demonstration programs.
References and further reading
Biomass as a Solid Fuel Practical Action Technical Brief
Fuel from the Fields: Charcoal from Agricultural Waste Practical Action Technical Brief
Improved Wood Waste and Charcoal Burning Stoves: A practitioner's manual Practical Action
Simple Technologies For Charcoal Making FAO, 1983
(FAO Forestry Paper No 41)
Charcoal: Small-scale Production and Use GTZ (now GIZ)
Charcoal of Simple Kiln Systems GTZ (now GIZ)
Charcoal Production Using a Transportable Metal Kiln NRI
Construction Of A Transportable Charcoal Kiln NRI
Construction Of Charcoal Kilns Built With Locally Manufactured Bricks NRI
Construction, Installation And Operation Of An Improved Pit-Kiln For Charcoal Production NRI
Charcoal Making in Developing Countries Technical Report No 5 Gerald Foley, Earthscan
The Charcoal Dilemma: Finding a sustainable solution for Brazilian industry Practical Action
Charcoal in the Value Chain in Western Kenya Alannah Delahunty
Alannah Delahunty completed an Msc in Africa & international Development at the University of Edinburgh.
For her dissertation research she spent time in Western Kenya researching aspects of gender in the
charcoal value chain. This research was carried out as part of the PISCES project, which is developing
new knowledge on sustainable bioenrgy production through action research and policy development in
Kenya, Tanzania, India and Sri Lanka. www.pisces.or.ke
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