Uganda: Household Energy Demand and Use

This country synthesis report is based on a detailed country report, which may be accessed through our dynamic report builder is available here.


A Household Energy Demand and Use
B Household Energy Supply
C Household Energy Sector Governace
D Household Energy Information

A. Household energy demand and use

A.1 Introduction

The total population of Uganda in 2000 was 22.2 million, with 3.6 million (16.4%) in urban areas and 18.6 million (83.6%) in rural areas. There is a marked and quite rapid process of urban migration underway from poor rural parts of the country, especially where there has been war, and mostly into Kampala. The majority of households cook twice per day, and the main foods cooked are maize, millet, beans, bananas, groundnuts, fish, potatoes, cassava, sorghum and meat.

A.2 Cooking

In rural areas, there is almost universal reliance on biomass fuels, mainly wood, for cooking but also with significant use of crop residues and animal dung. In most rural homes these fuels are burned in traditional 3-stone fires, although there is some use of improved stoves (mainly mud stoves without chimneys). Biomass is also the main fuel for the urban poor, but there is considerably more use of charcoal which is burned in simple metal stoves or ceramic lined improved stoves. Although kerosene is widely available, it is used mainly for lighting. The use of LPG for cooking (and other purposes) is currently very limited in Uganda, due to inter-related issues of cost of appliances (including bottles), low affordability for the large number of poor people, and inadequate supply. Likewise, electricity is used by only a small minority for cooking.

A.3 Space heating

Space heating needs vary across the country according to elevation and climate, but are minimal in lower lying parts of the country. Where there is a need for heating, this is usually provided by the biomass fire during cooking, or by keeping it alight when people gather for social events.

A.4 Hot water

Hot water is required for drinks, and for washing dishes, clothes and for personal hygiene. As for coking and space heating, almost all low-income households rely on biomass (mainly wood) for this purpose.

A.5 Lighting

In homes using biomass, light from the fire is an important source of illumination. But, around 90% of homes use kerosene for lighting, mostly in simple wick lamps or lanterns. Around 5% of the population has access to grid electricity, but only 2% of rural homes and access for low-income households may be even lower. As a result, dry cell and lead-acid batteries are used for light in around 90% and 10% of homes respectively.

A.6 Refrigeration and space cooling

Although there might be considerable demand for refrigeration, this is unmet for the great majority of low-income households. Electricity, gas, kerosene, and solar fuelled refrigerators are in use, but probably by less than 5% of all homes. Space cooling (air conditioning) is not an issue for low-income households.

A.7 Communications and entertainment services

Given the fact that only 20% of rural areas have access to grid electricity, batteries are the main source of power for radios and televisions. Of those without grid access, more than 90% of homes using batteries for various purposes rely on dry-cells and around 10% on lead-acid batteries. The use of the latter is restricted by lack of recharging facilities and distances in rural areas.

A.8 Household appliances

Very little information appears to be available on household appliances, although for low-income homes these will be restricted to little more than radio, possibly TV, and an iron that would normally be heated on the wood fire, or with charcoal.

A.9 Energy for micro-enterprises

The main types of micro-enterprise outside of the home are rural computer schools, rural schools, video show rooms, and shops that need to be lit in the evenings. In the home, women may wish to work in the evenings. Kerosene is the main fuel for lighting, and grid electricity where this is available. Grid electricity, or batteries (see A7), are used for enterprises using appliances.

A.10 Summary and conclusions

There is a wide diversity of energy sources available in Uganda, and these are used for a similar wide diversity of applications. However, the actual patterns of use by low-income households are very constrained by poverty and supply. In rural homes wood, supplemented by dung and crop residues, are overwhelmingly the most important energy sources for cooking, space heating (where/when required), heating water, and for some important micro-enterprises. Most poor homes burn biomass fuels in traditional 3-stone fires. Charcoal takes on this role as the main cooking fuel for the poor in urban areas due to the difficulties of transporting wood into the cities. Kerosene use is widespread, but mainly for lighting. Access to grid electricity is still very restricted for low-income groups, especially rural, which effectively rules out this modern energy source even for lighting. LPG use is similarly restricted to higher income groups. Other power sources such as photo-voltaic (PV) solar have made relatively small contributions so far.
Last edited by Miriam Hansen .
Page last modified on Sunday September 19, 2010 17:34:46 GMT.
  • A practitioner's journal on household energy, stoves and poverty reduction.

Upcoming Events

No records to display