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Title: Sustainable bioenergy feedstock production in rural areas of developing countries : social impacts and stakeholder dynamics in India and Uganda
Authors: Harrison, Jennifer Ann
Issue Date: 2011
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: Improving the availability of secure energy supplies for the poorest rural communities is central to development efforts. World-wide, climate change concerns have led to growing interest in renewable sources, including modern forms of bioenergy. Drivers behind its adoption are diverse, location and scale dependent, and result in multi-level trade-offs. Although impacts are context-specific, bioenergy production and use have a wider impact on issues including deforestation, biodiversity loss, water shortages and food price increases. At local levels reports of labour exploitation, loss of local land rights, market interference and resource depletion are alarming. However, bioenergy projects continue to be promoted and implemented for potential social, environmental and economic benefits, particularly in rural areas of developing countries. Efforts to ensure sustainable bioenergy at international levels are emerging, with varying success. Existing market and legislative efforts are often insufficient to ensure positive socio-economic and environmentally sound outcomes locally. This thesis therefore aims to provide two approaches to incorporate socio-economic aspects in planning for sustainable bioenergy production in rural areas of developing countries. The research uses India and Uganda as substantive case studies. Based on these experiences, and in order to better understand the social effects of bioenergy feedstock production, a straightforward two step methodology for assessing social effects of bioenergy projects in developing countries is proposed, intended to be embedded within a planning for sustainability framework. One of the main barriers to success has been effective multi-stakeholder consultation (MSC). To address this, a second approach is conceived, for identifying and understanding stakeholders and their dynamics (in terms of roles, requirements and risks). Initially this focuses on liquid biofuel production models in India using five Jatropha curcas L.-based biodiesel production models in Chhattisgarh State, where the significant distinctions between them are: land ownership and value chain; and market end use and route. When analysing social impacts locally the risks and responsibilities of different stakeholder groups must be considered. The approach is then trialled on eight predominately theoretical models of woody biomass for gasification in Uganda, where the main distinctions are land ownership and feedstock type. Key social issues vary by whether models are corporately or farmer/NGO led, and what production arrangements were in place. Scale of plantation and market size were found to be important; small, privately owned models are unlikely to benefit landless poor and could deplete resources without strategic planning, while larger projects employ more, but often have longer term natural resource impacts. Bioenergy initiatives which collaborate with the rural poor and landless are found to be most likely to result in socio-economic rural development, and one of the proposed Ugandan models which potentially offers social benefits is analysed in terms of additional outcomes. The analysis concludes it is: economically viable; will produce significantly less carbon than generators (dependent on plantation productivity); will not impact local water resources significantly (if converting rangeland); and requires capacity building and stakeholder participation from the outset to promote local ownership and troubleshooting ability. The importance of strategic planning and departmental coordination, and the need for a pilot case to allow the technology to be tested, are shown. It is concluded that participation of stakeholders in the sustainability planning process is crucial, and the approaches proposed in this thesis are robust facilitating tools. Context-specific assessments, such as these, are essential in planning for sustainable bioenergy production and would be expected to facilitate successful MSC and ultimately sustainability planning, improving its contribution to policy making.
Description: Ph.D. Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences

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