Life Cycle Assessment On Economic Feedbacks In The Charcoal Value Chain In Lusaka District, Zambia
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Charcoal production and trade in much of southern Africa, Zambia included is presented as a set of activities with adverse environmental impacts largely because the socio-economic benefits of charcoal production and trade have been downplayed. Lusaka district represent about 32% of Zambia’s urban population and charcoal is a primary source of energy for 85% of urban households and the industry contributes to 500 000 people employed as charcoal producers, transporters and vendors. Despite this, charcoal has remained underpriced by more than 20-50% in relation to the economic costs thus affecting the producer who then exacerbate the negative environmental impacts. The study presents the scale and economic value of the charcoal industry in Zambia, by assessing the key players along the value chain, the mechanism for revenue generation and distribution of income. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) was used to assess the economic feedbacks (inputs and outputs) along the charcoal value chain in Zambia. This is through structured interviews with the key actors on how much money is put in (expenditure) and what the returns (profits/losses) are at each stage of the value chain. The study found out that the value chain was largely inefficient with revenues and profit shares skewed in favor of the transporters 120% and vendors (wholesalers 25% and retailers 33%). However, the transporter and producer also bear less of the costs as much of the costs are covered by the wholesaler moving charcoal from the producer to the retailer. Further the study found out that the higher number of actors made the value chain complex thus increased on the economic costs. There were three links of charcoal supply with different actors, such as the charcoal producers, roadside wholesalers, transporters, market wholesalers, retailers (market, household, mobile), agents, middlemen and institutions/govt departments. Therefore, the study recommends a formalization of the charcoal value to reduce exploitation along the chain. Further recommends training in business skills along the value chain so that profits are not only concentrated in the hands of the vendors and transporters. But so that profit will be distributed along the entire value chain.