Energy is all around us. If you see anything moving, growing, heating up, creating light or producing a sound, energy is what is making it happen.

Both humans and animals get their energy from eating food. But unlike animals, humans have found ways to capture extra energy which they use in different ways to make their lives easier. Listening to the radio, lighting the house at night, travelling by bus or using a mobile phone – all these activities need energy.

Africa has a vast range of energy sources but despite this potential, the continent consumes the least energy per person in the world. The light bulb was invented over a hundred years ago yet only 23 per cent of people in sub-Saharan Africa have access to electricity. People without electricity supplies spend a large proportion of their time and income on meeting their basic energy needs, whilst wealthier people all over the world benefit from huge amounts of energy produced by burning fossil fuels – coal, oil and natural gas. This releases carbon dioxide, the chief cause of global warming, into the atmosphere. Even if they didn’t have a harmful effect on the climate, fossil fuels will eventually run out, and as they do, they will become more and more expensive. Renewable technology devices, such as solar panels, wind turbines and micro-hydro systems, and energy conservation measures are vital for the future, both for the economy and the environment.

Smoke, the silent killerCurrently, over sixty percent of households in Africa burn biomass fuels, like wood, crop residue, charcoal and dung every day. Of all the biomass fuels, wood is the most sought-after. As the number of trees dwindles rapidly, people have to travel greater distances to collect wood. Women often provide much of the human energy in families and when trees are few and far between, they have to carry heavy loads of fuel wood long distances every day.

Biomass fuels are generally burnt on open fires in the home. The smoke produced from these fuels is very dangerous and causes over 400,000 deaths per year in Africa. Worldwide, the death toll from indoor smoke pollution is greater than that caused by malaria.

People need sustainable energy. This topic looks at healthy options for household energy, not only for people, but for the planet.



Excerpts from Africa Our Home
Wood smoke and our health (page 138-139)
Excerpts from Africa Our Home More ideas for cough-free cooking (page 140-141)
Excerpts from Africa Our Home Global Climate Change (page 142-143)
Excerpts from Africa Our Home Renewable energy (pages 134-135)
Excerpts from Africa Our Home Save the world: Energy efficiency (page 144-146)


PACE Action Sheet Reducing Kitchen Smoke PACE Action Sheet Solar Water Heating
PACE Action Sheet Fuel Savers PACE Action Sheet Build Your Own Solar Water Heater
PACE Action Sheet Making a Fireless Haybox Cooker PACE Action Sheet Biogas
PACE Action Sheet Solar Cooking PACE Action Sheet Planting Trees for Fuelwood
PACE Action Sheet Make your own Solar Cooker PACE Action Sheet Solar Lanterns
PACE Action Sheet Improved Stoves PACE Action Sheet Energy Efficient Houses
PACE Action Sheet Smoke Hoods PACE Action Sheet  


Educational Activities


PACE Directory
To get further details of helpful organisations listed in the Action Sheets download the PACE DIRECTORY.

The energy films are available from PACE, The following are the sections of the DVD which are applicable to this topic:
WATER ENERGY - Practical Action, Kenya
Film SOLAR ENERGY - Solar Cookers International, Kenya
Film BIOGAS - NAFRAC, Tanzania
Film FUEL EFFICIENT STOVES - Keyo’s Women’s Group, Kenya
Film SMOKE HOODS - Practical Action, Kenya
Click on the links above to find out more about these projects.

Renewable energy sources: Solar, Wind and Water

cabbage cooked with sunshine
Cabbage cooked with sunshine! (Solar Cookers International, Kenya) © Sarah Watson

Mr Anthony Paulo Katakwa has a biogas digester on his farm, powered with dung from his cattle. Biogas (methane) can be burnt for cooking or lighting the house, and can also be used to power combustion engines to drive a motor or generate electricity (NAFRAC, Tanzania). © Sarah Watson
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Last Updated on 2/1/2013