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Energy wellbeing In the recent weeks, within the framework of the Research Studio "Livability", four students have been working on the topic "Energy" with a focus on Kenya as a country and a project location with and around the North Coast Training college in Bomani, Kilifi county. This Blog highlights the important and notable pieces of research that has been done on the Energy topic Analysis relating to Energy in whole Kenya. Our research question is:

"How could the safety and health around the NCMTC be increased?"


The research started with; general use of electricity in Kenya. To map out the statistics about energy, such as access, use, costs, stability, safety, sources, transport, etc… we mapped the found information in the maps


The first map shows that Kenya's population density is high in the south-west and south. This is where the two major cities of Kenya, Nairobi and Mombasa, are located. The second map shows the electricity network distributed over Kenya and the third shows which energy sources are used to provide Kenya with electricity. It is clear to see that the biggest part of the network are around the cities, but this is only a small part of the Kenyan landscape. Many Kenyans live in remote villages or in the countryside. In many of these inhabited areas there is little or no access to electricity, but in recent years that doesn't seem to be a big problem.


In recent years, the Kenyan Power Network has witnessed large growths in load demand. Although the increased load demand has somewhat been matched with an increase in transmission and generation capacity, the rate of expansion has not been matched with the rate of increase in load demand due to economic, environmental, and geographical constraints. This has led to the system being prone to instability since it is being operated under stressed conditions. All these threats to the national electricity network mean that a better alternative is being looked at locally with the municipalities and groups of people, they are taking matters into their own hands and looking for a way to generate off grid energy. But without a good stable on- or off-grid network system other problems occur;


We have highlighted 4 energy challenges faced by households in Kenya. These are Cooking, Light, Electricity and Income (Economy). These four factors are components of energy and affect many aspects of human life and the environment. From the diagrams you can see the general research on the correlation between unclean cooking, bad lamps and health and environmental problems. The economics are also analysed and you can see how demand and econonomics affect the instability of the energy sector and the subsequent limitations. As well as the impact of the choice of fuel for lighting the dwelling on the health.


The issue of cooking fuels and appliances in Kenya is very acute as it affects the environment and human beings. The diagram shows how the standard and most popular cooker is three stones and charcoal with wood as the fuel has affected the mortality rate. In 2020, 70% in Kenya relied on biomass, pollution was increasing and worsening the health of the entire population. Part of the reason for this was income. In the rural environment, income is quite low which affects people's standard of living, stability, livability and facilities.


Since Hanze University in Groningen has links to Bomani, which is in the Kilifi district, at the North Coast Medical College (NCMTC), we are shifting our attention from Kenya to the NCMTC environment in order to investigate critical issues. In the diagram, you see the division of the main energy problem into two sectors - income and domestic energy - as these are the two main points. The items are also divided into light, cooking, electricity, amount of income and economic position. These are the identified areas that are problematic in Kilifi and Kenya as well. By doing this research we noticed a certain pattern and wondered: How could the safety and health around the NCMTC be increased?”


Household of the area around the NCMTC in Kilifi county. The map below shows the population density of the NCMTC area. This gives an idea of how many people live in the project area and how this is distributed. As can be seen, the population density is high in the city of Mombasa. This is a popular town on the coast of Kenya. Furthermore, there are several villages spread over the project area. In these places, especially Bomani, lays our focus to map out the focus points. Domestic energy, Lighting, Cooking and Income. You can also see the terrain map.


There are different fuel options for cooking. However, many households, over 83.8%, use common local raw materials such as coal and firewood. Kenya is renowned for its natural environment, which is slowly and imperceptibly being destroyed, affecting human health and the environment. Liquefied gas and ceramic cookstoves are a better alternative, but they are also more expensive. Unfortunately, many households cannot afford modern appliances - you can see that less than 1% of all households own an electric cooker.

1.1 COOKING.png

Cooking As we have seen before, in Kenya as a whole, it is no different in Kilifi county when it comes to cooking with biomass. The map shows the distribution of the use of firewood and charcoal in percentage across the NCMTC environment. What is striking is that in places with a low population, such as in Bomani, 95% use firewood and charcoal for cooking, because there is often no money to get an energy source for cooking. In addition, there are many ways of cooking, some of them have an enormous influence on health indoors, but the people in rural areas mainly cook with 3 stones, while this is the most polluting way of cooking and dangerous for the health of the people inside the house.


The biggest issue for the population is the impact of the way food is cooked on health. In the diagram you can see that people use firewood and charcoal, which takes 12 hours a week to collect. The forest that are considered unique in Africa are being destroyed. But the main thing is the release of harmful elements that will get into the lungs, eyes and mucous membrane. Local people are aware of the short-term effects, such as burning eyes and nasal congestion, but have little idea how much their lungs are contaminated, and their life expectancy is reduced.


Lighting is a complex issue for Kilifi. Various methods are used - paraffin, gas lamps, lanterns, presure lamps. All these methods are quite dangerous and can provoke accidents and severe health consequences. But a rather popular source is paraffin. You can see on the map how many tribes and towns use paraffin instead of electric light. In Mumbasa the percentage is 35%, in Bomani it is 85% and in small tribes it is as high as 98%. And the ratio of these locations is very different look at the proportion more than half of the tribes and towns use homemade lighting


On average 74% of people have access to electricity in the whole Kilifi district The map shows that only 10% of the people around the NCMTC can use electricity. This has health and safety implications, as without electricity people will use more paraffin and paraffin lamps. In addition, some shops, kiosks and pharmacies cannot open after dusk as they depend on daylight, consequently they cannot increase their income and people have to be limited in their provisions.


The economic situation of households.The map below shows people who cannot work for various reasons (students, housewives, people with disabilities). What we see is that in half of the cities there is a problem with unemployed people (45% of the total population of the city). There are few economically inactive people in the other half. But the work they do is not as lucrative as you might think. The graph shows that only 5 percent of rural residents receive average wages, which affects their lives and livelihoods, as well as the level of awareness about their problems. In urban conditions, half of the population receives an average salary. In cities like Mumbasa, people can provide themselves with healthier living conditions.


Based on the income graph, more than 50 per cent of rural residents live below the poverty line. As a result, they cannot afford to improve their cooking cookers, lights and tools to a safe level. All this affects their health and condition. 60% of the rural population is aware of clean cooking. But how many of them can buy and implement such a method? Clean cooking stoves cost about $28-52. The cost of fuel can be a barrier when it’s introduced for the first time, especially to those that collect free firewood. (83%)


As a result of this study, you can see how acute the health issue is. In this chart you can see the exact numbers and diseases that people are prone to due to problems in the energy sector. In rural areas, over 70% of people suffer from chest tightness and eye irritation. Over 50% suffer from dizziness. In peri urban environments, half the population suffers from wheezing and heavy breathing. And only in large cities can people be at least somewhat protected, you see that the mark of all problems is at 20%. However, there are many more small towns and households in Kilifi and Kenya than large ones.



Even though 74% percent of the population have access to electricity, the actual consumption of electricity for example for lighting in households is only 15% and 7% of the income of households is spend on energy, which at first sight looks beneficial for users. The reason why people spend so less on energy is because they depend on unsafe and unhealthy energy solutions over on grid energy, which comes with instability problems and price uncertainties. Especially the rural population and the poor population have to switch to a more consumptive and productive use of energy and the low prices of kerosene for lighting and free firewood for cooking are economically attractive to them but they have detrimental effects on their health and safety.

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