Cow Dung Disappearing as Energy Source for Namibians

It's just after 13:00, and Helena Iitope from a far-flung village in northern Namibia, had just returned from collecting cow dung which she uses as an energy source to cook.

"In fact, I had to go beyond the village boundaries into another village, hoping to collect enough cow dung to prepare both lunch and dinner for the family," she said.

Rocked by drought, the Namibian government declared a drought emergency two month ago.

It's not only the loss of crops and livestock that has been the immediate effect on farmers, but hidden from view is the energy crisis hard-hitting rural households, who are dependent on firewood and natural resources for energy.

In 2005, for Iitope, the supply of firewood and other energy sources such as cow dung were accessible within a distance of 100-500 metres from her home.

As climate change took its toll on the environment, Iitope this year bemoans of a lack of firewood, let alone sufficient cow dung as an energy source -- all lost to drought.

These days, like many farmers in rural Namibia, as firewood becomes scarce, cow dung is used as substitute for firewood.

Ollivier Girard/CIFOR


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