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In Nigeria, as many developing countries, providing energy for the population has proven to be a great challenge thereby increasing dependence on other sources of energy such as fuel-wood. The consumption of forest product such as wood in Nigeria exceeds its regeneration rate thereby resulting in environmental problems such as deforestation, desert encroachment, soil erosion and habitat loss. The aim of the research is to investigate household’s fuel-wood consumption pattern and its impact on the urban poor using Makurdi Nigeria as my case study. Three factors level of qualification, monthly income and number of households were tested to know the influence of these factors on fuel-wood consumption. Methods used to collect data includes primary and secondary data. Primary data were collected by administering questionnaires and secondary data from journals and articles. Result of the findings shows that there is statistical significant impact of monthly income of fuel-wood consumption while level of qualification and number of household members has no statistical significance. The survey revealed some gaps on strategies to reduce deforestation and increase efficiency in fuel-wood consumption. Short term, medium term and long term strategy were recommended.


1.1   Background of the Study

Nigeria as considered by many to be the giant of Africa is known for its renewable and non-renewable energy sources (Ajani, 1996). The renewable energy sources in Nigeria consist of solar, wind, hydro plants and biomass such as fuel-wood, dung and plant residue. While the non-renewable sources are mainly petroleum products such as; kerosene, crude oil, Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and coal (Ajani, 1996).

Nigeria has a population of over 168 million and it is estimated to reach 188 million by 2016 and 221 million by 2020 (NPCN, 2013). In Nigeria, as many developing countries, providing energy for the population has proven to be a great challenge thereby increasing dependence on other sources of energy such as fuel-wood.

The economy has for over two decades been plagued by continuous energy crisis, which is caused by ‘erratic electric power supply, acute shortages of petroleum products on several occasions, sudden price increase on energy commodities such as crude oil and natural gas and frequent conflict between the populace led by the labour movement, and the Federal Government on what should constitute appropriate prices of petroleum and other energy supplying commodities’ (CBN, 2000).

A study by Onoja and Emodi, 2012 suggest that the inaccessibility of the population to sufficient energy supply by the government has led to increase in the consumption of fuel-wood as an alternative source of energy. This consumption pattern has both economic benefits and environmental impact on the environment.

The energy demand and consumption according to various sectors in the country shows that residential sector has the second highest energy demand (Dayo, 2008). Presently, fuel-wood accounts for over 50% of total energy consumption in Nigeria and it recorded as the major source of energy in the domestic sector (Nigerian Energy Policy, 2003).

Over 70% of Nigeria’s total population rely on fuel-wood as their major source of energy for cooking, heating, preservation and other domestic purposes and 87% of the energy consumed is estimated to be wood (Onoja and Emodi, 2012). According to statistics, 96.4% of fuel-wood is used for cooking, 3.3% is used for lighting and the rest is for other domestic purposes (Dayo, 2008).

 The population growth rate couple with the consumption rate of the forest product has raised an alarming rate of forest product depletion. The consumption of forest product such as wood in Nigeria exceeds its regeneration rate as there is an increase in the rate of exploitation of immature trees especially by farmers (Mekonnen et al., 2008). This indicates that as consumption rate increases, forest product will continue to decrease in an unsustainable manner as demand and supply will not be proportional. The unsustainable fuelwood consumption could lead to environmental problems such as forest depletion, soil erosion, habitat loss and climate change (Akinbamia et al., 2003).

The Nigerian forest covers about 36million ha of land which is approximately 36.6% of land cover (Federal Government of Nigeria, 2001). Presently, the forest reserve accounts for 10,762,702ha but due to the indiscriminate felling of trees, the forest reserve is reduced to only about 130,446ha that is left untouched and that is because of inaccessibility to the location (Amiebenomo, 2002). The Federal Department of Forestry (2001) records that the Nigerian forest depletes at the rate of 3.5% annually and has presently lost about 60% of its natural forest to extensive agriculture, excessive logging and urbanization between 1960 and 2000( FAO, 2006). 

As the pressure on fuel-wood increases so also is the distance travelled to collect wood. Arnold (2006), concluded that the adverse effect of distance travelled to collect fuel-wood could lead to decline in availability of cooked food which would affect nutrition and health of people depending on it. This implies that as fuel-wood become progressively more expensive due to increase in scarcity and distance travelled to obtain it, the poorest and most disadvantaged households may find it increasingly challenging to meet basic energy needs (Maconachiea et al., 2009).

According to an analysis by Mekonnen et al., (2008), the nature of Nigeria’s household setting has also contributed to the consumption of fuel-wood. It is cheaper to cook for larger household using firewood or charcoal than other alternative fuel sources because larger household consume less fuel-wood per capita compared to smaller households (Mekonnen et al., 2008). Other studies by Babanyara and Saleh, 2010 and Desalu et al., 2012, also concluded that fuel-wood consumption is a habit that is adopted by urban dwellers due to Rural-urban migration, Urbanization, Poverty, household size, availability of wood and constant increase in the prices of other fuels.

Leitmann, (1996) and Maconachiea et al., (2009) concluded that the choice of consuming fuel-wood is determined by economic factors such as income, level of education, affordability and cultural practices. Some cultures in Nigeria belief that certain food will taste better when fuel-wood is used and this is a legacy passed down by their predecessors (Oketola, 2013).  

This research paper investigates the determinant of fuel-wood consumption per household, its impact in relation to indoor air pollution and also its contribution to deforestation. It also explores the measures that has been taken to reduce the pressure on forest resources, deforestation and to increase forest management.

1.2   Aim of the study

The aim of the research is to investigate household’s fuel-wood consumption pattern and its impact on the urban poor using Makurdi Nigeria as my case study.

1.3   Research Objectives and Questions

To achieve the aim of the study, the following objectives were developed to:

·         Identify the various sources of energy in Makurdi Nigeria.

·         Determine their accessibility and affordability to the people.

·         Determine the factors that influences the choice of energy used in Makurdi Nigeria.

·         Analyse the impact of the energy consumed by the household and its potential impact on the environment.

·         Analyse government’s strategies on how to reduce excessive consumption of fuel-wood in Nigeria.

The research objectives shaped the formation of research questions which, when investigated will help to achieve the research objectives (Onwuegbuzie and Leech, 2006). The research questions extends the objectives investigating and the reflecting on energy consumption patterns (Johnson and Christensen, 2004 p.77).

·         Why is fuel-wood perceived as a reliable source of energy compared to other sources?

·         How does fuel-wood consumption impact on the wellbeing of the people and the environment?

·         What are the key factors responsible for influencing the shift in demand to fuel-wood?

·         What are the government strategies established to tackle the increase in fuel-wood consumption?

The data collected are used to help identify some of the key factors influencing the increase in fuel-wood consumption. It also provided some information that could help in redirecting the focus of government and other stakeholders on how to design strategies for conservation, sustainable management of the forest products and how to meet energy demand.

1.4   Research hypothesis

For the purpose of this research paper, the focus was on fuel-wood and what influences the consumption of fuel-wood. Based on previous studies on the factors responsible for fuel-wood consumption, three null hypothesis (H0) were tested to know if there is a statistical significant impact of:

·         H0 1: Level of qualification influencing fuel-wood consumption

·         H0 2: Monthly income influencing fuel-wood consumption

·         H0 3: Number of household members influencing fuel-wood consumption

The research paper is divided into five sections. Following this introduction and definition of terms is the literature review on the economic and environmental impact of fuel-wood, Nigerian energy policies and fuel-wood policies in Nigeria. The third section explains the methodology describing the methods used to collect the data and data analysis for this research. The fourth section summarises the result and discussing the result in relation to the research questions and null hypothesis. The final section offers some conclusions with some recommendations.

It is necessary to define some key terms for this research because most often some terms are used interchangeably such as fuel-wood and wood-fuel which are used as the same thing. Wood-fuels refers to ‘any energy sources that comes from woody biomass’ (May-Tobin, p.3). For the purpose of this research, these terms specifies the definitions used for the research.

1.5   Definition of Terms

·         Fuel-wood- ‘fuel-wood consist of any unprocessed woody biomass used to fuel a small fire, most often for cooking or warmth’ example is the firewood. (May-Tobin, p.3)

·         Deforestation- It is the long term or permanent loss of the forest cover by transforming the forest cover into another land use such as agriculture, commercial, urban area or as a source of energy without allowing the forest to regenerate itself, such loss are human induced or naturally perturbed (FAO, 2003)

·         Households- Household could be a one person household or a multi-person household ‘that makes provision for his/hers/their own food or other essentials for living’ (FAO, 2000)

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