Gender, Firewood and Health: The Potential of Ethnography to Inform Policy and Practice

Margaret Matinga*, Joy Sheila Clancy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

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There are several health-related issues in the firewood chain which are gendered. The data available tend to focus on women’s use of firewood for cooking which shows wood use in rural areas continues long after modern energy access is technically achieved. Cost and availability are not the only reasons for the limited transition – social issues also play a part.
Using ethnographic methods, we explore the gender-health-firewood nexus in South Africa where the 1998 Energy Policy incorporated objectives aimed at social issues including gender and health. We show that firewood has not been completely displaced and so negative health impacts, which mainly fall on women, continue and are neglected by health professionals.
We argue that ethnography can complement quantitative and rapid qualitative research methods to better inform policy and practice by unpacking the complex social factors, such as culture, which restrict modern energy use.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEngendering the Energy Transition
EditorsJoy Clancy, Gul Ozerol, Nthabiseng Mohlakoana, Marielle Feenstra, Lillian Sol Cueva
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-43513-4
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-43512-7
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Gender
  • Health
  • Firewood
  • Ethnography
  • n/a OA procedure


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