Food Security

, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 925–938 | Cite as

Efficiency scenarios of charcoal production and consumption – a village case study from Western Tanzania

  • Harry HoffmannEmail author
  • Götz Uckert
  • Constance Rybak
  • Frieder Graef
  • Klas Sander
  • Stefan Sieber
Original Paper


Availability and access to energy is strongly linked to food security as cooking is needed to make foods ready for consumption. Without access to energy, there is no food security. In rural Tanzania, the population strongly depends on traditional biofuels such as firewood and charcoal. Under the pressure of population growth, energy demand will substantially increase in the next decades. The potential of improved efficiency in charcoal production and efficient cooking stoves were evaluated using scenario analysis. For quantitative data collection, a household survey was conducted in Laela village (2010). The sampling process was based on relative income classes (ICs) defined by local representatives and extending  from “rich” (IC 1) to “below self-sufficiency” (IC 4). Based on quantitative survey data, we calculated the quantity of pre-carbonised fuelwood associated with charcoal consumption for ICs in order to display specific consumption patterns. Further, we applied scenario analysis and projected charcoal consumption by 2030 including population growth (+3.41%/year), improved kiln efficiencies (11.1%–20%) and different dissemination rates of efficient stoves (0%–100%). Results of consumption patterns showed that fuelwood consumption in IC 1 was twice that of IC 4, when a conversion efficiency of 11.1% was applied. Calculations of the scenario analyses showed that overall energy consumption will almost double by 2030. The combined approach of a moderate improvement of conversion efficiency (15.6%) combined with a dissemination rate for energy efficient stoves of 50% would overcome the effect of population growth in projected energy consumption and offer a means of coping with future bioenergy demands.


Traditional biomass Charcoal Firewood Efficient stoves Tanzania Land use conflicts 



We would like to thank the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) as well as the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) for financing the projects Trans-SEC ( and Better-iS ( This work was also financially supported by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) based on the decision of the Parliament of the Federal Republic of Germany through the Federal Office for Agriculture and Food (BLE). It is partly embedded in the Scale-N project ( In particular, we would like to express our gratitude to the helpful and friendly people of Laela for their support during the research project.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

12571_2018_786_Fig1_ESM.jpg (500 kb)
Annex 1 Charcoal kiln discovered in the hillside North-East of Laela (JPEG 500 kb)
12571_2018_786_Fig2_ESM.jpg (552 kb)
Annex 2 Highly efficient Casamance kiln observed in Ulaya Mbuyuni in 09/2014 (JPEG 552 kb)
12571_2018_786_Fig3_ESM.jpg (570 kb)
Annex 3 Barked tree to dry wood before processing to charcoal (JPEG 569 kb)


  1. Abdallah, J. M., & Monela, G. G. (2007). Overview of Miombo Woodlands in Tanzania. Working Papers of the Finnish Forest Research Institute 50 (pp. 9–23.). Vantaa, Finland: Finnish Forest Research Institute.Google Scholar
  2. Adkins, E., Tyler, E., Wang, J., Siriri, D., & Modi, V. (2010). Field testing and survey evaluation of household biomass cookstoves in rural sub-Saharan Africa. Energy for Sustainable Development, 14(3), 172–185. Scholar
  3. Adkins, E., Oppelstrup, K., & Modi, V. (2012). Rural household energy consumption in the millennium villages in Sub-Saharan Africa. Energy for Sustainable Development, 16(3), 249–259. Scholar
  4. Ahmed, S. A., Diffenbaugh, N. S., Hertel, T. W., Lobell, D. B., Ramankutty, N., Rios, A. R., et al. (2011). Climate volatility and poverty vulnerability in Tanzania. Global Environmental Change, 21(1), 46–55. Scholar
  5. Allen, J. C. (1985). Wood energy and preservation of woodlands in semi-arid developing countries: The case of Dodoma region, Tanzania. Journal of Development Economics, 19(1–2), 59–84. Scholar
  6. Arnold, J. E. M., Köhlin, G., & Persson, R. (2006). Woodfuels, livelihoods, and policy interventions: Changing Perspectives. World Development, 34(3), 596–611. Scholar
  7. Bailis, R. (2009). Modeling climate change mitigation from alternative methods of charcoal production in Kenya. Biomass and Bioenergy, 33(11), 1491–1502. Scholar
  8. Bentson, S., Still, D., Thompson, R., & Grabow, K. (2013). The influence of initial fuel load on Fuel to Cook for batch loaded charcoal cookstoves. Energy for Sustainable Development, 17(2), 153–157. Scholar
  9. Bogdanski, A. (2012). Integrated food–energy systems for climate-smart agriculture. Agriculture & Food Security, 1(1), 1–10. Scholar
  10. Boko, M., Niang, I., Nyong, A., Vogel, C., Githeko, A., Medany, M., et al. (2007). Africa. In M. L. Parry, O. F. Canziani, J. P. Palutikof, P. J. van der Linden, & C. E. Hanson (Eds.), Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (pp. 433–467). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Brouwer, I. D., den Hartog, A. P., Kamwendo, M. O. K., & Heldens, M. W. O. (1996a). Wood quality and wood preferences in relation to food preparation and diet composition in Central Malawi. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 35(1), 1–13. Scholar
  12. Brouwer, I. D., Wijnhoven, T. M. A., Burema, J., & Hoorweg, J. C. (1996b). Household fuel use and food consumption: Relationship and seasonal effects in central Malawi. Ecology of Food and Nutrition, 35(3), 179–193. Scholar
  13. Brouwer, I. D., Hoorweg, J. C., & VanLiere, M. J. (1997). When households run out of fuel: Responses of rural households to decreasing fuelwood availability, Ntcheu District, Malawi. World Development, 25(2), 255–266. Scholar
  14. Butz, R. J. (2013). Changing land management: A case study of charcoal production among a group of pastoral women in northern Tanzania. Energy for Sustainable Development, 17(2), 138–145. Scholar
  15. Bwalya, S. M. (no date). The contribution of dry forests to rural poverty reduction and to the national economy: Zambia. Technical report. Lusaka, Zambia: Department of Economics, University of Zambia.Google Scholar
  16. CAMCO (2014). Biomass energy strategy (BEST) Tanzania. Tanzania biomass energy strategy and action plan. Final report. (pp. 138). Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: euei pdf - European Union Energy Initiative Partnership Dialogue Facility.Google Scholar
  17. Chidumayo, E. N., & Gumbo, D. J. (2013). The environmental impacts of charcoal production in tropical ecosystems of the world: A synthesis. Energy for Sustainable Development, 17(2), 86–94. Scholar
  18. Emrich, W. (1985). Handbook of Charcoal Making (Vol. 7, Solar Energy R&D in the European Community, Vol. Series E). Dordrecht, Netherlands: D. Reidel Publishing Company for the Commission of the European Communities.Google Scholar
  19. EU Commission. (2013). Soil atlas of Africa. Brussels: EU Commission.Google Scholar
  20. FAO. (2008). Forests and energy: key issues. FAO Forestry Paper 154 (p. 73). Rome: FAO - Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.Google Scholar
  21. Felix, M., & Gheewala, S. H. (2011). A Review of Biomass Energy Dependency in Tanzania. Energy Procedia, 9(0), 338–343. Scholar
  22. Foell, W., Pachauri, S., Spreng, D., & Zerriffi, H. (2011). Household cooking fuels and technologies in developing economies. Energy Policy, 39(12), 7487–7496. Scholar
  23. Ghilardi, A., Mwampamba, T., & Dutt, G. (2013). What role will charcoal play in the coming decades? Insights from up-to-date findings and reviews. Energy for Sustainable Development, 17(2), 73–74. Scholar
  24. Global Village Energy Partnership. (2012). Tanzania Market Assessment. Executive Summary (p. 4). London: GACC - Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves.Google Scholar
  25. Government of Tanzania (2003). 2002 Population and housing census. General report. Accessed 12 Sept 2015.
  26. Government of Tanzania. (2006). Rukwa. Regional and district projections Volume XII (p. 194). Dar es Salaam: National Bureau of Statistics and Ministry of Planning, Economy and Empowerment.Google Scholar
  27. Government of Tanzania (2007). Regional report: Rukwa region. Volume Vo. National sample census of agriculture 2002/2003 (Vol. VI, pp. 332). Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: National Bureau of Statistics, Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Ministry of Water and Livestock Development, Ministry of Cooperatives and Marketing, Presidents Office, Regional Administration and Local Government.Google Scholar
  28. Government of Tanzania (2008). Agriculture and livestock. Accessed 01 July 2013.
  29. Habermehl, H. (2007). Economic evaluation of the improved household cooking stove dissemination programme in Uganda. Household Energy Programme, Eschborn. Accessed 12 April 2018
  30. Hartter, J., & Boston, K. (2007). An integrated approach to modeling resource utilization for rural communities in developing countries. Journal of Environmental Management, 85(1), 78–92. Scholar
  31. Hiemstra-van der Horst, G., & Hovorka, A. J. (2009). Fuelwood: The "other" renewable energy source for Africa? Biomass & Bioenergy, 33(11), 1605–1616. Scholar
  32. Hoffmann, H., Uckert, G., Reif, C., Graef, F., & Sieber, S. (2014). Local biofuel production for rural electrification potentially promotes development but threatens food security in Laela, Western Tanzania. Regional Environmental Change, 15(7), 1181–1190. Scholar
  33. Hoffmann, H., Uckert, G., Reif, C., Müller, K., & Sieber, S. (2015). Traditional biomass energy consumption and the potential introduction of firewood efficient stoves: insights from western Tanzania. Regional Environmental Change, 15(7), 1191–1201. Scholar
  34. Hoffmann, H., Sander, K., Brüntrup M., Sieber, S. (2017) Applying the Water-Energy-Food Nexus to the Charcoal Value Chain. Frontiers in Environmental Science 5(84).
  35. IEA (2006). Energy for Cooking in Developing Countries. In IEA (Ed.), World Energy Outlook 2006 (pp. 419–445). Paris: IEA - International Energy Agency.Google Scholar
  36. Iiyama, M., Neufeldt, H., Dobie, P., Njenga, M., Ndegwa, G., & Jamnadass, R. (2014). The potential of agroforestry in the provision of sustainable woodfuel in sub-Saharan Africa. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 6(0), 138–147. Scholar
  37. Johnsen, F. H. (1999). Buring with Enthusiams: Fuelwood scarcity in Tanzania in terms of severity, impacts and remedies (Vol. 1, pp. 107–131). Oslo: Forum for Development Studies.Google Scholar
  38. Johnson, N. G., & Bryden, K. M. (2012). Energy supply and use in a rural West African village. Energy, 43(1), 283–292. Scholar
  39. Kaale, B. (2012). Tanzania: Impact of Cooking Energy Scarcity on Gender. Accessed 12 Sept 2015.
  40. Kammen, D. M., & Lew, D. J. (2005). Review of technologies for the production and use of charcoal. Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory Report (pp. 19). Golden: National Renewable Energy Laboratory.Google Scholar
  41. Karsenty, A., Blanco, C., & Dufour, T. (2003). Forest and climate change: Instruments related to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and their potential for sustainable forest management in Africa. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).Google Scholar
  42. Kaygusuz, K. (2011). Energy services and energy poverty for sustainable rural development. Renewable & Sustainable Energy Reviews, 15(2), 936–947. Scholar
  43. Kees, M., & Feldmann, L. (2011). The role of donor organisations in promoting energy efficient cook stoves. Energy Policy, 39(12), 7595–7599. Scholar
  44. Kimaryo, B. T., & Ngereza, K. I. (1989). Charcoal production in Tanzania using improved traditional earth kilns. Manuscript Report 216e (pp. 27). Moshi: IDRC - International Development Research Centre.Google Scholar
  45. Legros, G., Havet, I., Bruce, N., & Bonjour, S. (2009). The energy access situation in developing countries: a review focusing on least developed countries and sub-Saharan Africa (p. 142). New York: UNDP - The United Nations Development Programme; WHO - The World Health Organization.Google Scholar
  46. MacCarty, N., Still, D., & Ogle, D. (2010). Fuel use and emissions performance of fifty cooking stoves in the laboratory and related benchmarks of performance. Energy for Sustainable Development, 14(3), 161–171. Scholar
  47. Maes, W. H., & Verbist, B. (2012). Increasing the sustainability of household cooking in developing countries: Policy implications. Renewable & Sustainable Energy Reviews, 16(6), 4204–4221. Scholar
  48. Mahiri, I., & Howorth, C. (2001). Twenty years of resolving the irresolvable: approaches to the fuelwood problem in Kenya. Land Degradation & Development, 12(3), 205–215. Scholar
  49. Mahonge, C. (2010). Co-managing complex social-ecological systems in Tanzania. The case of Lake Jipe wetland, PhD Thesis Wageningen University. Wageningen: Wageningen University.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Makungwa, S., Epulani, F. & Woodhouse, I. (2013a): Fuelwood Supply: A Missed Essential Component in a Food Security Equation. Journal of Food Security, 1–2.
  51. Makungwa, S. D., Epulani, F., & Woodhouse, I. H. (2013b). Fuelwood Supply: A Missed Essential Component in a Food Security Equation. Journal of Food Security, 1(2), 49–51.Google Scholar
  52. Malimbwi, R. E., & Zahabu, E. M. (2008). Woodlands and the charcoal trade: the case of Dar es Salaam City. Working Papers of the Finnish Forest Research Institute 98 (Vol. 98, pp. 93–114). Vantaa: Finnish Forest Research Institute.Google Scholar
  53. Menéndez, A., & Curt, M. D. (2013). Energy and socio-economic profile of a small rural community in the highlands of central Tanzania: A case study. Energy for Sustainable Development, 17(3), 201–209. Scholar
  54. Mitchell, D. (2011). Biofuels in Africa. Opportunities, prospects and challenges. Directions in development - Countries and regions. Washington DC: The World Bank.Google Scholar
  55. Murphy, J. T. (2001). Making the energy transition in rural east Africa: Is leapfrogging an alternative? Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 68(2), 173–193. Scholar
  56. Mwampamba, T. H. (2007). Has the woodfuel crisis returned? Urban charcoal consumption in Tanzania and its implications to present and future forest availability. Energy Policy, 35(8), 4221–4234. Scholar
  57. Mwandosya, M. J., & Luhanga, M. L. (1993). Energy and development in Tanzania: Issues and perspectives. Energy Policy, 21(5), 441–453. Scholar
  58. Nathan, D., & Kelkar, G. (1997). Wood Energy: The Role of Women's Unvalued Labor. Gender, Technology and Development, 1(2), 205–224. Scholar
  59. Nathaniels, N. Q. R., & Mwijage, A. (2000). Seed fairs and the case of Marambo village, Nachingwea district, Tanzania: Implications of local informal seed supply and variety development for research and extension. ODI Agricultural research & extension network (AgREN), network paper 101 (pp. 12). London: ODI - Overseas Development Institute.Google Scholar
  60. Openshaw, K. (1983). Wood Fuel Surveys - Annex III - (b) Measuring fuelwood and charcoal. Accessed 12 Sept 2015.
  61. Palmula, S., & Beaudin, M. (2007). Greening the charcoal chain - substituting for charcoal as a household cooking fuel in Dar es Salaam. Traineeship Report, ERM Module 5. Amsterdam: Institute for Environmental Studies. Vrije Universiteit.Google Scholar
  62. Peter, C., & Sander, K. (2009). Environmental crisis or sustainable development opportunity? Transforming the charcoal sector in Tanzania, A policy note (p. 54). Washington DC: The World Bank.Google Scholar
  63. Reyes-Moreno, C., Paredes-López, O., & Gonzalez, E. (1993). Hard-to-cook phenomenon in common beans — A review. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 33(3), 227–286. Scholar
  64. Sander, K., Gros, C., & Peter, C. (2013). Enabling reforms: Analyzing the political economy of the charcoal sector in Tanzania. Energy for Sustainable Development, 17(2), 116–126. Scholar
  65. Schenkel, Y., Bertaux, P., Vanwijnbserghe, S., & Carre, J. (1998). An evaluation of the mound kiln carbonization technique. Biomass and Bioenergy, 14(5–6), 505–516. Scholar
  66. Schure, J., Ingram, V., Sakho-Jimbira, M. S., Levang, P., & Wiersum, K. F. (2013). Formalisation of charcoal value chains and livelihood outcomes in Central- and West Africa. Energy for Sustainable Development, 17(2), 95–105. Scholar
  67. Shackleton, C. M., & Clarke, J. M. (2011). Annex 6: Silviculture and management of miombo woodlands to improve livelihood outcomes. In B. Campbell, & P. Dewees (Eds.), Managing the Miombo Woodlands of Southern Africa. Policies, incentives and options for the rural poor. Technical Annexes (pp. 101–123). Scholar
  68. Simpson, W. T. (1998). Equilibrium moisture content of wood in outdoor locations in the United States and worldwide. Research Note FPL-RN-0268. Forest Products Laboratory, United States Department of Agriculture. (pp. 1-11).Google Scholar
  69. Smith, J. U., Fischer, A., Hallett, P. D., Homans, H. Y., Smith, P., Abdul-Salam, Y., et al. (2015). Sustainable use of organic resources for bioenergy, food and water provision in rural Sub-Saharan Africa. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 50, 903–917. Scholar
  70. Sola, P., Ochieng, C., Yila, J., & Iiyama, M. (2016). Links between energy access and food security in sub Saharan Africa: an exploratory review. Food Security, 1–8, doi: Scholar
  71. Sosovele, H. (2010). Policy challenges related to biofuel development in Tanzania. Africa Spectrum, 45(1), 117–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Tabuti, J. R. S., Dhillion, S. S., & Lye, K. A. (2003). Firewood use in Bulamogi County, Uganda: species selection, harvesting and consumption patterns. Biomass and Bioenergy, 25(6), 581–596. Scholar
  73. The World Bank. (2007). Growth Prospects for Rukwa Region: Constraints and Opportunities. (pp. 57). Washington DC: The World Bank.Google Scholar
  74. Tröger, S. (2004). Handeln zur Ernährungssicherung im Zeichen gesellschaftlichen Umbruchs. Untersuchungen auf dem Ufipa-Plateau im Südwesten Tansanias. In H.-G. Bohle & T. Krings (Eds.), Studien zur Geographischen Entwicklungsforschung 27. Saarbrücken: Verlag für Entwicklungspolitik.Google Scholar
  75. United Nations (2010). The World’s Women 2010: Trends and Statistics. New YorkGoogle Scholar
  76. United Nations (2013). World Population Prospects: The 2012 Revision; Highlights and Advanced Tables. Working paper No. ESA/P/WP.228. New York: Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division.Google Scholar
  77. Urassa, J. K. (2010). Rural household livelihoods, crop production and well-being after a period of trade reforms: a case study of Rukwa, Tanzania; PhD Thesis University of Sussex. Sussex: University of Sussex.Google Scholar
  78. van Beukering, P., Kahyarara, G., Massey, E., di Prima, S., Hess, S., Makundi, V., et al. (2007). Optimization of the charcoal chain in Tanzania In Poverty Reduction and Environment Management (PREM) Programme (Ed.), PREM Working paper. Amsterdam: IIED - Institute for Environmental Studies, Vrije Universiteit.Google Scholar
  79. von Freyhold, M. (1979). Ujamaa Villages in Tanzania: Analysis of a Social Experiment. London: Heinemann.Google Scholar
  80. Vos, J., & Vis, M. (2010). Making charcoal production in sub-Saharan Africa sustainable (p. 59). Utrecht: NL Agency; Netherlands Programmes Sustainable Biomass.Google Scholar
  81. WHO. (2006). Fuel for Life: Household Energy and Health. Geneva: WHO - The World Health Organization.Google Scholar
  82. Willis, R. (1981). A State in the Making. Myth, History and Social Transformation in Pre-colonial Ufipa: Bloomington.Google Scholar
  83. Wiskerke, W. T., Dornburg, V., Rubanza, C. D. K., Malimbwi, R. E., & Faaij, A. P. C. (2010). Cost/benefit analysis of biomass energy supply options for rural smallholders in the semi-arid eastern part of Shinyanga Region in Tanzania. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 14(1), 148–165. Scholar
  84. Zulu, L. C., & Richardson, R. B. (2013). Charcoal, livelihoods, and poverty reduction: Evidence from sub-Saharan Africa. Energy for Sustainable Development, 17(2), 127–137. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature and International Society for Plant Pathology 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Harry Hoffmann
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Götz Uckert
    • 1
    • 2
  • Constance Rybak
    • 1
    • 2
  • Frieder Graef
    • 2
  • Klas Sander
    • 3
  • Stefan Sieber
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF)Institute of Socio-EconomicsMünchebergGermany
  2. 2.Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF)MünchebergGermany
  3. 3.The World BankWashingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations