Cost benefit analysis of different energy sources used in public secondary schools in Mtito Andei Division, Makueni County

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South Eastern Kenya University
Energy affects all aspects of development: social, economic and environmental,including livelihoods, access to water, agricultural productivity, health, populationlevels and education. Public schools spend a lot of money every year on energy bills.Currently, they are experiencing an exponential increase in student enrolment whichputs more pressure on energy needs. This study focuses on cost benefit analysis ofdifferent energy sources used in public secondary schools in Mtito Andei Division,Makueni County. The specific objectives are to: (1) establish the sources of energyused in public secondary schools, (2) investigate the factors determining the choice ofthe energy source(s), (3) assess environmental and socio-economic impacts of majorenergy sources and (4) conduct cost benefit analysis of major energy sources. Thestudy used Survey Research Design (SRD) and a census survey, with all 30 schools inthe study site studied via questionnaire administration, observation, interview andphotography for data collection. Both descriptive and Benefit Cost Ratio analyticalprocedures were used. The study findings showed that firewood was the most popularcooking energy source with all (100%) schools using it while charcoal came second(23%) followed by LPG gas (10%) and paraffin (7%). Only 3% of the schools usedelectricity for cooking. The over reliance on firewood for cooking is expected to havenegative environmental consequences in the study area. Electricity was the mostpopular source of energy for lighting (60%) followed by solar energy (27%) andparaffin (7%). These are expensive sources of energy. An investigation into forms oflow cost energy technologies as perceived by the respondents revealed energy savingstoves (87%), solar power (27%) and energy saving bulbs (10%). The reasons foradoption of these energy technologies was mainly high cost of other energy sourcesand need to conserve the environment. The challenges associated with the differenttypes of energy identified were; electricity (unreliability), firewood (scarcity),charcoal (scarcity) and solar power (high installation cost). The study found firewoodconsumption was on average 10 tonnes per school per term and that firewood hadbeen used for cooking for more than 13 years on average in all schools in the studyarea. The study found the Benefit cost ratio (BCR) of solar power at 1.19 and BCR offirewood at 0.19. The study concludes that there was over reliance on firewood forcooking and adoption of modern energy technologies like solar power was very lowwith adoption by only 27% of schools. The study recommends: (1) the national andcounty governments to come up with policies such as subsidies, grants and tax reliefthat will make these technologies affordable and accessible to schools for adoption,(2) establishment of school-based woodlots consisting of fast-growing tree varieties toaddress the school wood fuel demands instead of escalating the destruction and loss ofindigenous forest ecosystems in the area, (3) since solar power has a BCR greater than1, the study recommends that schools should consider installing more of solar powerto reduce huge energy bills and to reduce over dependency on firewood.