Domestic Fuel Combustion in Un-electrified Low-income Settlements in South Africa

Type Working Paper
Title Domestic Fuel Combustion in Un-electrified Low-income Settlements in South Africa
Domestic fuel combustion in low-income settlements of South Africa has always been a
major source of urban air pollution. Low-income households that house a large portion of the
South African population consume vast quantities of coal, wood, paraffin (kerosene) and
other substances in order to provide for their energy needs. Only a small amount of work has
been done in the way of developing any sort of domestic combustion emissions inventory in
South Africa. For this reason, a lack of South African literature surrounding this topic breeds
uncertainty in not only the fuel types being utilised but also the quantities of these fuels being
consumed in low-income settlements, as well as the associated impacts. To better understand
the relationship that exists between domestic combustion and the resultant pollutants, a
method of quantifying these pollutants has been developed for Zenzele, a completely unelectrified
settlement near Johannesburg. This was achieved using the quantities and types of
fuel consumed. In un-electrified households, paraffin and liquid petroleum gas, used
specifically for cooking and lighting, are the most commonly used fuel types during the
warmer months. During winter, low-income households favour solid fuels such as wood and
coal. As the temperature decreases, the rate at which these solid fuels are consumed
increases. The most significant observations identified in this study are the diurnal and
seasonal trends associated with domestic burning. Factors such as seasonality, the availability
and price of fuels as well as cultural aspects all have a bearing on residents’ fuel choices and
the quantity consumed.

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