Household fuel consumption and resource use in rural-urban Ethiopia

Z. Gebreegziabher

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


Keywords: biofuels; land degradation; technology adoption; fuel-savings efficiency; stove R&D; household and community tree investments; fuelwood availability; animal dung; biogas; urban fuel demand; rural hinterlands; northern Ethiopia.   Fuel scarcity and land degradation are intertwined problems of global concern. Land degradation affects some 2 billion hectares of land world-wide. In Africa some 500 million hectares of land have been affected by land or soil degradation, including about 65 percent of the continent’s agricultural land. Land degradation has different facets, one of which is nutrient loss (depletion). In Ethiopia, indirect estimates suggest that the reduction in agricultural productivity from lost nutrients associated with the use of animal dung for household fuel accounts for about a 7 percent reduction of agricultural GDP. By piecing together the various aspects of the puzzle, this thesis quantitatively analyzes the behavioral factors underlying household fuel demand and supply in rural-urban Ethiopia. It contributes to the existing literature in four important respects. Firstly, it provides insights into the role of using an improved stove in redressing land degradation, besides determining the factors that affect the stove adoption decision. Secondly, the thesis empirically analyzes the role that household and community tree planting play in redressing the fuel problem. It also investigates two attributes of household tree growing, i.e., a household’s decision to grow trees and the extent of tree growing, in an econometrically consistent framework. Thirdly, it investigates the potential of environmentally clean technologies such as biogas installation at farm level as an opportunity to redressing land degradation. Fourthly, it draws empirically the implication of urban fuel demand for rural hinterlands using a demand system approach. Empirical results indicate that the adoption of an improved stove reduces harvest pressure on local forests and that adoption is an economic decision related to savings in time spent in collecting fuel and cooking, and cattle required for everyday purposes. The thesis reveals a clear positive relationship between household tree plating and fuelwood consumption of the household. Consequently, tree planting might reduce the future use of manure as fuel. Biogas installations are only profitable for a few farm households. Profitability might increase if family farms were to combine their efforts. Findings also reveal that redressing the urban fuel problem cannot be seen in isolation from broader development policies aiming at raising the levels of education and income. Higher urban incomes, however, increase fuel demand. Although data are from northern Ethiopia, conclusions drawn may have a wider application in other parts of the country as well as in the broader context of the African Sahel.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
  • Oskam, Arie, Promotor
  • van Kooten, Kees, Promotor
  • Woldehanna, Tassew, Co-promotor
Award date22 Oct 2007
Place of Publication[S.l.]
Print ISBNs9789085047452
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • economic development
  • rural development
  • natural resources
  • resource management
  • fuel consumption
  • land degradation
  • innovation adoption
  • efficiency
  • stoves
  • fuelwood
  • availability
  • cattle dung
  • biogas
  • rural areas
  • households
  • communities
  • ethiopia
  • development economics
  • biofuels
  • energy saving


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