Gender and energy services in the rural non-farm economy of Ejisu-Juaben Municipality

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Energy is central to the issues of development of rural non-farm economy (RNFE), global security, gender equity, environmental protection and sustainable development. Developing the RNFE, sustaining its growth and improving the living standards of the rural poor require adequate and reliable supply of energy. There exists the absence of ‘gender’ disaggregated data on the specific energy needs for productive services at the RNFE. The study thus sought to examine the gendered usage of energy at the RNFE, identify the factors influencing decisions to use particular energy forms and the implications of the supply and utilisation of the energy fuel on in the RNFE. One hundred and fifty four (154) operators within the RNFE in four communities in the Ejisu-Juaben Municipality were interviewed: Bonkra, Adadientm, Hwereso and Kubease. Relevant institutions such as the Energy Commission, Municipal Planning Office and the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG); were also interviewed for primary data to supplement secondary data from literature. The study employed the mixed research design to collect relevant primary data from the units of enquiry. The operators ran 15 categories of enterprises. Approximately 48% and 52% of the enterprise operators were females and males respectively. Activities at the RNFE were found to be informal and similar to those of the urban informal economy. The type of activities at the RNFE were found to be gendered where women were involved in the food preparation activities. The enterprises made use of varied energy fuels ranging from traditional solid fuels to cleaner energy ones. The study revealed that reasons for the preference for energy fuels were not very gendered at the RNFE. This was further confirmed by a Chi square test which revealed no significant association between gender and the type and preference for an energy service for productive purpose. The preference for an energy service was thus influenced by type of activity one was engaged in at the RNFE. Despite the health risks associated with solid fuels, they still remained central to activities of the food based enterprises, because they were readily available, reliable and affordable. Based on the findings, the study recommended efforts by health institutions to intensify public health care programmes to educate operators on the short and long-term implications of utilising the solid fuels. The study further recommended efforts by the government to encourage PPPs to promote investments into R&D and the deployment of alternative cleaner energy forms. Lastly, the study recommended for encouraging gender participation in energy intervention initiatives, due to the differing energy needs of men and women in the RNFE.
A thesis submitted to The Department of Planning, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy in Planning,