|dc.description.abstract||The charcoal market in Africa is an informal economy. This enables millions of people
to earn a living producing, selling and trading charcoal, due to low barriers to market
entry. However, research and policy on charcoal has long focused on the downsides of
informality. Informal charcoal production is commonly linked to criminality, an
undermining of social cohesion, poor working conditions and most of all, forest loss.
These negative perspectives continue to shape our approaches to charcoal markets, despite
a recent reframing of charcoal as a potential sustainable development opportunity.
This thesis aims to provide an alternative perspective. I argue that by focusing on the
negative aspects of charcoal production, in particular forest loss, we end up misdiagnosing
the problems and excluding stakeholders. The focus on forest loss has obscured research
on the role of charcoal in rural livelihoods and has led to research that is primarily
interested in large-scale production providing charcoal to major urban areas. This means
small-scale charcoal production has been comparatively neglected in academic research,
despite its importance for rural livelihoods and overall charcoal supply. Through three
empirical chapters, I provide perspectives on small-scale charcoal production, its role in
rural livelihoods and some of the factors that shape this role. I strive to provide novel
analytical insights by moving away from questions of charcoal’s environmental impact
and towards an approach that situates charcoal within the politics of rural livelihoods.
I explore these ideas using case studies from Mozambique and a mixed methods approach.
The results show small-scale charcoal production is a flexible form of income, primarily
used as a livelihood diversification strategy. Furthermore, charcoal production is closely
linked to the agricultural practices of producers. This means that conventional theoretical
approaches to forest loss that treat charcoal production as distinct from agricultural
practice may misinterpret the role of charcoal production in deforestation and forest
degradation. I then move on to look at approaches to charcoal market formalisation in
Mozambique. The results show that the regulations, whilst shaped by a variety of
processes, concentrate on governing charcoal as an environmental problem. Changes to
forest management requirements within the regulations have done little to improve
sustainability as they are incapable of reaching out to small producers, in part due to
inherent barriers within the formalisation process - stringent forest management plans
and a conceptualisation of charcoal as a full-time, professional livelihood.
The picture of charcoal production that emerges from the thesis is one of a flexible cash-income
generating strategy, complicated by the politics of forest loss and livelihoods at
local and national levels. The results show that charcoal plays a vital role in rural
economies, not only in spite of its informality, but because of it. I argue throughout the
thesis that small-scale charcoal production should be seen as a livelihood strategy to be
nurtured rather than neglected and marginalised. The research questions whether the
formalisation and modernisation of charcoal markets can engage small producers and
concludes that in order to allow charcoal livelihoods to flourish and to improve
sustainability, interventions need to work with, and for, charcoal as an informal economy.||en
|dc.relation.hasversion||Jones, D., Ryan, C.M., & Fisher, J., 2016. Charcoal as a diversification strategy: The flexible role of charcoal production in the livelihoods of smallholders in central Mozambique. Energy for Sustainable Development, 32, pp.14–21.||en