Woodfuel is the only indigenous and most important source of energy in the country. It is primarily used in the residential sector for cooking. A small amount of fuelwood is also used in the fish processing, palm sugar making and lime making industries. In 1994, total woodfuel consumption was about 1,200 TJ, accounting for 55% of total energy consumption. Fuelwood supply in Male is commercialised. Between 1976 and 1987 the price increased from 1.5 to 5 Rf. per bundle.
Data on the country's wood energy situation is not collected systematically as of yet. Nevertheless, localised fuel shortages that vary quite a lot over the widely scattered islands seem to exist. Similarly, household stove problems are likely to be fairly variable among the islands. Scarcities and unhealthy conditions in rural households need to be addressed. Fuelwood is still widely used, even at Male, but the quality has gone down and the prices have gone up, indicating a shortage of supply.
Apart from government departments there are no specialised institutes or centres for developing fuelwood technologies or wood resources. Surveying energy demand and supply would be a cumbersome undertaking due to the large distances between the many small islands. Linkages are now being established by RWEDP with the Women's Department and NGOs to collect data on wood energy in the country.
Environmental problems related to wood energy may also be serious. The law states that for each tree cut two trees have to be planted, but this can hardly be controlled or implemented effectively. The relatively short-term contracts granted to woodfuel harvesters are also a matter for environmental concern. The contracts used to be for three years but have now been extended to five years. However, RWEDP believes that these short-term contracts are not conducive to proper management. Long-term contracts (e.g. 30 years) may be more effective when it comes to sustainability and environmental protection.
Focal points are the main contacts for RWEDP in a member country. Generally, in each country, there is one focal point in the energy sector, and one in the forestry sector.
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© FAO-RWEDP, 1999