Cooking energy in Madagascar [Survey 2019].

11/01/2019. We have always been told that using coal as cooking energy is wrong, that it degrades the environment and that instead of coal we should use gas or any other type of renewable energy. But has that changed today?

We therefore wanted to know what domestic energy households use for cooking in 2019. So we took to the streets of Antananarivo to question some 771 people about their habits. On the energy used by the people of Antananarivo for cooking.

Charcoal, the star of cooking for the Tananarivians

Unsurprisingly, the survey reveals that coal is still the cooking energy most used by Tananarivians: 91% of those surveyed use it in general. 12% then use all electric cooking appliances, 7% use “kitay” (firewood), 5% use domestic gas and a meager 0.26% use solar energy.

As for what households use mainly for cooking, 87% prefer charcoal, 7% prefer electricity, 4% use kitay. It should be noted that for these 4%, we are talking about those who only use the kitay for cooking and not those who use some of it to light the charcoal. Finally, only a small 2% use mainly domestic gas.

The famous kitay menaka, our best ally in making fire...
The famous kitay menaka, our best ally in making fire…

As regards the monthly budget allocated to the purchase of coal, it was found that 37%, i.e. more than a third of users spend between 15 000 and 20 000 ar, 19% spend between 20 000 and 25 000 ar, 16% between 10 000 and 15 000 ar, and 11% between 25 000 and 30 000 ar.

For the rest, the results are as follows:

  • 9% spend between 30,000 ar to 40,000 ar
  • 4% spend between 40,000 ar to 50,000 ar
  • 1% spend between 5,000 ar to 10,000 ar
  • 1% spend 50,000 ar and more
  • 1% spend less than 5,000 ar

We also asked coal users where they cooked. 67% then told us that they cook their meals in a separate kitchen, while 19%, due to the lack of a kitchen, prepare their meals directly in their homes. Finally, 12% have an outdoor kitchen.

The Tananarivians’ opinion on household appliances

Also as part of the survey, we took the opportunity to raise the subject of household appliances with our respondents. It emerged that only 38% of Tananarivians own household appliances at home.

Among those who do not, 55% (more than half) justify their choices by the fact that it consumes too much electricity. Then 29% find it too expensive, 11% are not interested in it and the remaining 2% don’t have any because they simply don’t have electricity. Finally, 3% did not want to comment on the subject.

Regarding the type of appliance used, the refrigerator won the race with 60% of Tananarivians owning at least one.

Next comes:

  • the mixer for 53% of them
  • the rice cooker for 37%
  • the kettle for 14%
  • the electric oven for 13%
  • the coffee maker for 5%
  • the food processor for 4%
  • the fryer for 2%
Yes, 60% of Tananarivians have a refrigerator, but still as full, we don't know :)
Yes, 60% of Tananarivians have a refrigerator, but still as full, we don’t know :)

When asked about their experience with the quality of household appliances sold on the market, slightly less than half of those surveyed (45%) admit that they find them of fairly good quality. 44% then think they are of good quality, then 6% think they are of poor quality. Finally, 3% say they find them of fairly poor quality and 2% did not give their opinion.

What can we learn from this survey on cooking energy in Madagascar?

According to the results of this survey, charcoal remains the main domestic fuel in Madagascar: a large majority of Tananarivians (91%) use it daily and 87% use it mainly for cooking. Basically, all the attempts to make us understand at school and all the actions to raise awareness about the dangers of deforestation have been in vain. So we’re sticking to our position: coal forever!

The situation is all the same alarming when one considers that around 100 000 hectares of forest go up in smoke every year in the country and that 45% of our forests have disappeared over the past 60 years (source: CIRAD study, 2018).

The situation is rather paradoxical since the survey also revealed that 93% of Tananarivians are aware that the use of charcoal harms our environment. So why do we continue to use it?

Well it turns out that 62% of the respondents use this fuel simply because they have no choice. However, there is no shortage of alternative energy sources on the market, including coal briquettes (made from coal dust and natural products), ethanol stoves, fatana mitsitsy (or energy-saving stoves), solar-powered cookers, domestic gas, etc. They are not very popular among Malagasy people, probably because they are not yet within the reach of all households, especially those in rural areas.

If coal is popular with Malagasy people as a cooking energy, is it finally because they have no choice?
If coal is popular with Malagasy people as a cooking energy, is it finally because they have no choice?

For the rest, 21% of those who use coal as cooking energy admit to using it anyway because it is easy to find and 11% because it is the cheapest energy on the market. Fortunately, only a miserable 0.32% do not give a damn about the environmental impact of their coal consumption. Phew.

Finally, let us conclude by saying that 71% of Tananarivians say they are satisfied with the main energy they use for cooking. This is true for coal (71% satisfied) as well as for other types of cooking energy (72% satisfied). A majority who therefore do not feel the need to change their habits.

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