|RUC2014 Blog 11: Investigating the safety levels of fossil fuels for women in urban and rural areas in Nigeria|
|Friday, 27 February 2015 10:14|
How can research contribute to protecting women’s health and the environment? This article, first published by Obafemi Awolowo University, is a result of part of a Research Uptake Communications [RUC2014] coaching programme.
Cheaper and safer sources of sustainable energy need to be stepped up, not only to protect the health of women in Nigeria, but also to minimalise environmental damage.
The link between energy sources and financial and social status
When women in the area of the study were asked ‘how do you obtain your source of energy?’ the immediate response from women indicated that sources of energy are determined by the financial and social status of most respondents. Most sources of energy are bought. Firewood is the only free energy source, and this is because most of the users, especially in the rural areas, are farmers, or work for farmers. They depend on trees as their fuel source and collect wood while they work on farms. Sawdust is a by-product of cutting plants and plywood, but the saw millers have disposal methods in place, and it is not available free of charge.
There is no one source of energy that can satisfy the needs of mostly urban dwelling women in Nigeria. Electricity, natural gas, kerosene, fire wood, charcoal and saw dust is all used. The great proportion of rural women depend on firewood as their source of domestic energy usage, while urban women predominantly use kerosene, electricity and natural gas. There are implications to which fuel women use, both interms of gender-related health and the greater environment, due to deforestation and pollution.
Hazards: Health and environment
In Nigeria, women are charged with the responsibility of cooking for their families, and exposure to some of the fossil fuels they use to cook on endanger their lives. In particular, wood, kerosene and sawdust are particularly dangerous, causing significant damage to eye-sight. Furthermore, the collecting and burning of wood is a significant contributor to deforestation in the area, and also increases greenhouse gases.
Safety and sustainability
The study found that the generation of electricity should be stepped up to provide a sustainable, safer, uninterrupted and much cheaper source of energy for women to cook on, thereby minimizing health and environmental hazards. It was also recommended that the use of lowcost and locally available charcoal, saw dust and natural gas should be stepped up for the same reasons.
Find the original article ‘Nigeria Journal of Social and Educational Research (NIJOSER), Volume 1, No 2, pp 40-46. A Comparative Analysis of Urban and Rural Women’s Perspective’ here. AREGBESOLA, Theodora O. (1999), here.
Prof. T. Bello (previously, Aregbesola)
Prof. Olubukola Olakunbi Ojo