A major challenge facing developing countries is how to allocate scarce capital, especially public capital, for the provision of basic services. Electrification, as part of an integrated service delivery package, is both a large draw on public funds and also an important catalyst for economic development. One of the major benefits of electrification, but one that is not included in traditional cost-benefit analysis, is the avoided health costs of fuels such as wood, coal and paraffin. March 2005

The introduction of improved cookstoves is a means to reduce the consumption of cooking energy and, in the case this energy is consumed in the form of wood or charcoal, to reduce or slow down deforestation. Before introducing improved stoves data should be available concerning the fuel savings that can be expected from the improved stoves compared to the traditional cookstoves. March 2005

Despite many studies looking at levels of indoor air pollution, successful initiatives to reduce the burden of ill health are few. One reason may be some commonly held beliefs, especially among those not directly involved in household energy, on some key issues in this field. ITDG has been collaborating on smoke alleviation with the University of Liverpool and other groups internationally for several years. This discussion is based on approaches adopted through two on-going projects funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) in Kenya, Nepal and Sudan. March 2005

The use of clean fuels such as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) instead of biomass-based fuels used for cooking in India would be beneficial in several ways. However, only about 33.6 million or 17.5% of all Indian homes use LPG as their primary cooking fuel, with 90% of rural homes still dependent on some form of biomass.

Does rural fuelwood use and more generally rural biomass use cause forest degradation? This question has been debated in scientific and policy circles. The author presents a framework for defining degradation and sustainable use of forests that might help clarify some of the confusion.