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AIR POLLUTION IN DENSE, LOW-INCOME
SETTLEMENTS IN SOUTH AFRICA
A Friedl1, D Holm2, J John3, G Kornelius4, C J Pauw5, R Oosthuizen6 and A S van Niekerk7 Abstract
This research is carried out on behalf of the Royal Danish Embassy as partof the Urban Environmental Management Programme in cooperation with theSouth African Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism. In the callfor proposals the rationale for this project is expressed as follows: ”Althoughair pollution in dense, low-income communities is acknowledged as a majorthreat to the health and well-being of the people living and working in thesecommunities, research into the problem, cause and effect relationships,possible solutions, impact of interventions, etc. has been, in the main,sporadic, uncoordinated, piece-meal, narrowly focused, etc. As such, andwith a view to developing an Integrated Strategy and Action Plan to addressthis problem, there is a need to synthesise the findings of the variousresearch and pilot projects done over the years and to draw out usefulconclusions and recommendations.” This paper synthesises the findings of the major research projects on energy supply for low-income households. Comparisons are made of themeasurements of air pollution related to the use of the various fuels and theirhealth impacts. Conclusions are made regarding the context of the energysupply problem in the broader household context, the basis and sustainabilityof possible future interventions, the impact that carbon trading may have inthis regard and the research gaps that still exist.
1. Background
overview of the nature and extent of the problem.
This domestic fuel use (wood, coal, biomass, paraffin, as This article summarises the results of research well as the impact of thermal efficiency of houses), carried out on behalf of the Royal Danish Embassy, key advantages and disadvantages related to the as part of the Urban Environmental Management use of various fuels, the potential extent of the Programme in co-operation with the South African problem, key impacts on health and well-being, Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism.
economic and social cost, the geographic areas The rationale was to synthesise the findings of the hitherto uncoordinated research concerning all aspects related to the problem of air pollution in pollution, and, finally, those vulnerable people that dense, low-income communities in order to draw are most at risk because of air pollution. Chapter 3 useful conclusions and recommendations that will analyses past and current interventions (e.g., serve as the basis for the development of an electrification, housing related interventions, BnM) integrated strategy and action plan.
relating to the health and well-being of householdsas 2. Scope and method of research
international case studies presented in Chapter 4comprise The research carried out for this project took the national biogas programmes. Chapter 5 identifies synthesise the findings of all important published intervention with the potential application to this studies on air pollution in dense, low-income problem. Chapter 6 discusses indicators that can be communities in South Africa (Friedl et al., 2008). As used to measure and evaluate various aspects of such, no new empirical research was conducted.
air pollution in dense, low-income communities.
Finally, Chapter 7 summarises the most important introductory Chapter 1 provides some background conclusions and provides a brief analysis of the and defines the most important terms as they are changing context to inform recommendations for applied in the document. Chapter 2 provides an viable intervention options categorised according to their level of development and potential impact.
Geographic areas most affected by air pollution can Finally, a description of the most important role- be differentiated into areas with high population players and their respective potential contributions densities and areas with high source densities, with the highest impact being in areas where bothsources and population are dense. Within the large 3. Summary of Results
metropolitan areas, the former black townshipsgenerally have the highest levels of ambient airpollution, caused by a combination of density of Of all sources of air pollution that have an impact on health in South Africa, domestic sources have by far sources. Although electrified areas with formal the largest impact. One study found that domestic housing have fewer coal users, electrification does sources were responsible for 69% of total health not totally replace dirty fuels, because these fuels impacts of ambient air pollution in a selection of remain relatively economical for space heating.
urban and industrialised areas (FRIDGE, 2004:iii, Higher income is also correlated with less use of 66). It is estimated that ambient air pollution in the dirty fuels (Statistics South Africa: 2008). Areas with six metropolitan areas of SA, as well as Rustenburg low minimum temperatures that are situated closer and Sasolburg (a population of approx. 5.5 million to the coal mines have higher levels of coal use people), has been responsible for 4 637 deaths for than areas that have milder weather or are further the year 2000 (Norman et al.:2007b) and that indoor air pollution has been responsible for 2 489 deaths expensive. This study has found that exposure to in all areas of SA for the same year (Norman et ambient air pollution beyond the large urban centres al.:2007a). Deaths caused by fires (mainly due to is probably a much greater cause for concern than paraffin) and paraffin poisoning have to be added to was previouly thought, because of high source arrive at a total annual death estimate. A summary densities in such areas and due to the fact that the for the year 2000 is given in Table:1: According to size of a settlement has only a limited influence on these estimates, more than 9 000 people die the level of air pollution. This means that there is a annually as a result of domestic use of “dirty” fuels strong possibility that the impact of air pollution is in the metropolitan areas of South Africa. These underestimated because many settlements where estimates exclude about 60% of the population and ambient air pollution may have significant negative the total could be much higher. Paraffin burns health effects are not included in the current calculations of deaths caused by air pollution (see have to be added to the total (PARASA 2005, the scope of Norman et al.:2007b).
In 2006, about 50% of all households used an energy carrier other than electricity and may thus Table 1: Estimations of annual deaths related to have been exposed to indoor air pollution (Statistics domestic use of dirty fuels for the year 2000 SA 2007). About 14% of these households usedparaffin, which is regarded as a clean fuel. Lloyd (2006:6) reports indoor CO levels of 1 600 ppm in of death deaths related
paraffin-using households in Kimberley. The other dangers of paraffin include fire and the drinking of paraffin, especially by children. The death toll caused by these dangers is very close to that fromambient air pollution exposure in urban areas. The drinking of paraffin is facilitated by the way it is handled and sold; it can be bought anywhere and in any container and thus may be easily drunk by children. Fire caused by paraffin is a very serious matter: annually 83 000 households, 2% of total paraffin using households, suffer as a result of paraffin related fires (Truran and Singh 2006:2).
None of the wick stoves on the market in 2007 met the safety specifications set by the SABS (Panday and Mafu 2007:61, Standards South Africa 2006,2007).
Energy use in low-income households shows a trend towards the use of a mix of energy carriers, especially among the lower 50% of income earners.
This pattern implies that low-income householdsswitch between energy carriers as it suits theirneeds. More households use a dirty fuel for heating than for cooking and least for lighting. It is likely that contribute to a high demand for houses, especially the electrification of houses has peaked and will in urban areas. If the rate of housing delivery falls remain stable at 80% of all households. The behind the rate of household growth, more people percentage of households that use dirty fuels has will live in informal houses which are thermally also stabilised with a constant 21% of electrified extremely inefficient. Presently, thermal properties households still relying on a dirty fuel source for are not integrated in the design of subsidy houses, heating or cooking; the use of dirty fuels has the need for large quantities of artificial space however increased in absolute terms between 2001 heating to achieve thermal comfort is thus being and 2007. The proportion of households that used a structurally entrenched. Dirty fuels are the most dirty fuel for heating only has also remained common way of delivering bulk heat. If the housing constant between 2001 and 2007, at about 50%.
backlog is not reduced, a stabilisation or even an The largest contribution to air pollution in dense, increase in dirty fuel use may occur. Much research low-income communities is caused by the domestic has been done into improvement of this situation use of wood in rural areas and wood and coal in urban areas around the coal mines for space heating. Electricity and paraffin are preferred by incongruence between the state of knowledge and many of the same households for cooking. Colder areas and colder periods are associated with higherlevels of solid fuel use and an increase in air Whether SA can avoid an electricity supply crisis contributor to health impacts from air pollution in the and the cost to the consumer of such avoidance, urban areas. However, the majority of wood users are two concerns likely to have a decisive impact on households) live outside these areas in rural areas.
In the event of a supply shortage dirty fuels will This is a highly neglected problem in the available function as a backup strategy for many households.
research findings: there is no data available on the Episodes of increased air pollution in this scenario types of devices and volumes of wood used, as well will correspond to episodes of power failure.
as what proportion of cooking is done indoors. This In the event of a complete supply crisis, dirty fuels lack of information makes it difficult to estimate will become or remain the fuels of choice for many health impacts related to wood use, but it must be the power generation capacity shortage is households in SA still use a dirty fuel for cooking.
overcome in such a way as to drastically increase The choice of energy carrier is not only determined the price of electricity and this increase is not by availability (about 80% of households have softened for the poor, an increase in dirty fuel use access to electricity) but also by the absolute cost and cost-efficiency of appliance systems. Paraffin is The result of tariff structures which charge an generally preferred to coal for cooking (when space increased price for increased use may have the heating is not required simultaneously), because it households will try to minimise their cost by Graham and Dutkiewicz, 1999; Graham, 1998).
avoiding the use of electricity for space heating andcooking. On the other hand, an increase in free 4. Future scenarios
basic electricity to such an extent that a householdcan use lights, watch TV and cook with free Four factors have emerged that will play a decisive electricity, will place an additional burden on the role in future trends in the use of dirty fuels. In combination, these factors clearly indicate that A drastic increase in energy efficiency on the level ‘business as usual’ is not a viable option: households, is the only way out of this dilemma.
The oil price has a direct influence on the price ofparaffin and indirectly on coal and wood. The effects of a high and rising oil price on energy use patterns communities are becoming poorer or richer in terms of their real purchasing power, will have a dramaticinfluence on the future of dirty fuel use, because an increase in income is negatively correlated with theuse of dirty fuels if cleaner fuels, especially SA needs to build 500 000 subsidy houses per year electricity, are available. There are analysts who are between 2008 and 2015 to eradicate the housing convinced that a large proportion of the population backlog of about 2.2 million houses (Leshabane has become poorer over the last two decades.
2008). Rapid household formation and urbanisation There has been a major shift in the macro-context an agreement with civil society and private sector of energy service delivery since 1994, when the role players on the allocation of their roles. For National Energy Programme (NEP) was initiated.
other technologies (e.g., energy efficient designs, More than 3 million electricity connections have renewables) strategies still have to be worked out been made already. The NEP was based on the based on reliable information and research on the assumption that electricity would eventually replace funding available, the technology available, the all other energy carriers. This assumption is being relevant policies and, importantly, the needs of the replaced by the expectation that there will always be an energy mix, where availability, cost and social The fact that many household switch between preferences will determine the most cost-effective and socially desirable mix. Despite its desirability, possibilities that really meet user requirements, having electricity makes a household a new type of consumer and leads to increased expenditure proportions of low-income households.
patterns, followed by financial constraints and aninability to pay for the electricity. This often results in 5. State of readyness of various
electricity cuts, which is a source of alienation: interventions
being cut off creates a feeling of not belonging andtherefore of not having to obey the rules of theunjust or unkind ‘system’. Electricity is found to save This report has evaluated a number of intervention time from labour-intensive work but eventually options to reduce air pollution in dense, low-income some people have less time for constructive communities. Implementation options that were activities because the TV – seemingly a usual found to be viable will now be briefly presented in order of their state of development, i.e., their electricity across income groups – consumes so readiness for mass implementation. Readiness for much of their time. Elderly people are sometimes mass implementation means that the project has found to want to continue using fire for a number of undergone a thorough process of evaluation in real reasons (e.g., smoke is a sign of life to visitors and operating conditions, improvements to better meet the needs of the end-users, and validation of theimpact and results. Only after such a process can a project be ready to be implemented, first as a pilotproject and then en masse.
The market for the trading of carbon credits, both The development of a project has to proceed under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) through a number of phases in order to guarantee or in the informal market, has led to a completely new dimension in clean household energy, that definitions]. This phased approach has been used should be utilised to the full benefit of all. Carbon in the past by the Nova Institute to develop the finance is directly applicable to projects that have a improved top-down ignition technique for coal fires bearing on the problem of air pollution in dense, that has already reached more than 100 000 low-income communities. The implementation of households (Van Niekerk and Swanepoel: 1999).
Basa njengo Magogo, (BnM), a clean burning method for domestic coal use which achieves a Plan/establish In this phase, the following is
important: Role players are identified, brought significant savings in coal use, is a good example of together, and consensus is reached on the way how carbon finance can fast-track a project that has forward. These role players may include people a drastic impact on air quality. The fact that it burns from the community, social workers, care givers, cleaner leads to a significant reduction in the negative health impacts of air pollution on residents.
government officials, industry representatives, etc.
Since the Nova Institute has succeeded to verify the Research and Development The impact of all of
reduction in the emissions of GHGs, caused by a the relevant legal provisions on a vulnerable family reduction in the quantity of coal use, the trading of would need to be identified and considered to these emissions has provided funding for large determine the problems that are experienced. Then scale implementation (24 000 households were it should be considered which of those problematic converted in 2007). If it is assumed that government provisions of law could be replaced with a sensible should only provide those services that cannot be alternative, or what other solution would be possible supplied by the private sector, it seems that the to eliminate the problems experienced. This phase trading of carbon credits has made it possible that is completed when there is consensus amongst the civil society and the private sector will be able to role players on the most suitable strategy or implement BnM in a number of areas, leaving government free to attend to other, as yet unsolvedproblems. Therefore, government should come to Evaluate, Refine and Validate
promising solution is implemented on a small scale in individual households. The results are evaluated, the solution is improved and then implemented campaigns have reached between 50% and 70% of again. This process is repeated until the results are coal users in the implementation area which means that a total of 420 000 of the estimated 600 000 Pilot implementation
primary coal users may be reached using the existing best practise (Lokkers and Swanepoel, 2005). The remaining 180 000 can most probably be reached by adapting the existing practice. Its Afterwards a final round of minor changes can be positive impacts affect health (reduction of ambient made to the solutions, based on the problems and indoor exposure to PM, SO, NO and VOCs), economy (25-33% coal savings), environment (25- Full-scale implementation After the success of
33% ash reduction), and labour market.
6.1. Thermally comfortable subsidy houses implementation, expanding over time until it has Another viable intervention option is the provision of been fully implemented in all target communities.
thermally comfortable houses. Government builds The relationship between the intensity of R&D between 200 000 and 300 000 subsidy houses per and implementation in the phased approach to the year and needs to build about 500 000 per year in development of interventions is shown in fig 1 technologies, techniques and design features areready Figure 1: The relationship between research
technologies), and are already standard practice in implementation
intensity
the building industry (e.g., use of ceilings, ceiling development of interventions (Van Niekerk and
insulation, and correct orientation). Building semi- detached or duplex houses has a great advantageconcerning thermal comfort and does not have toincrease development. Correct orientation will also notincrease the cost and will lead to improved thermalcomfort. All new houses should be the target of thefirst option: build houses first time right with energyconscious overhang. The second option is applicable toexisting houses: retrofit insulation, mainly ceilingsand ceiling insulation. All households that use dirtyfuels for heating, i.e., those in areas with highnumbers of coal and wood users, would benefitfrom Intervention options will be summarised in the order of readiness for mass implementation in the section environment (reduction of 40% in fuel use and thus in indoor exposure and ambient pollution), economyand labour market. Retrofit of insulation as well as 6. Recommendations for action
passive solar heat absorbers are needed in allsubsidy houses in cold areas. Despite higher In the next paragraphs, a number of intervention options to reduce air pollution in dense, low-income technology to new structures, the cost-benefit ratio communities are discussed very shortly, beginning with the interventions which are viable and ready formass implementation, followed by those that are less ready for implementation but show potential Solar cookers have been evaluated (average fuel and could be made ready with some more R&D.
saving of 38%), improved and validated but still Improved top-down ignition is one of those have not been implemented on a large scale.
implemented on a large scale (Swanepoel and Wentzel, 2004b; Le Roux, 2005). It has been An increase in free basic electricity and safety demonstrated to more than 100 000 households standards for paraffin appliances are two potential and studies show that retention is very high and interventions that are still in need of validation.
users who have mastered the technique rarelybackswitch to bottom-up ignition (Coetzee and 6.4. New generation energy efficient housing financial means. The quality of life of low-income A new generation energy efficient houses, biomass households will only be enhanced if residents are gasification stoves, gel fuels, and the domestic use engaged in the process of designing technology of biogas are interventions that show potential to that is functionally integrated within the social communities but have to go through the process ofevaluation first. What is needed, is understandingon how they will function within the communities for References
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