EnergyEnergy 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.
Currently, 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.
DOWNLOAD: EXCERPTS FROM AFRICA OUR HOME
DOWNLOAD: ENERGY ACTION SHEETS
DOWNLOAD: ENERGY ACTIVITIES
DOWNLOAD: ENERGY DIRECTORY
The energy films are available from PACE, firstname.lastname@example.org. The following are the sections of the DVD which are applicable to this topic:
Renewable energy sources: Solar, Wind and Water
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