Biofuels - as a Necessary Evil? Report from a Minor Field Study in Kipo, Tanzania

University essay from Lunds universitet/Humanekologi

Abstract: This paper gives an introduction to the pro and cons towards biofuel in the current international debate. The thesis is empirically based on fieldwork in Tanzania and presents a specific biofuel investment from the Swedish company SEKAB (Swedish Ethanol Chemistry AB). The location of fieldwork was in the Rufiji District where SEKAB plans to invest. The study’s focus is on the present quality of life of the villagers in Kipo and their knowledge of and attitude towards the investment. The study also discusses the possible consequences from the investment with specific focus on livelihood and ecological conditions. With the analytical framework of political ecology and ecologically unequal exchange, the discussion focuses on the social and environmental consequences, power relationship with natural resources and the impact of global policies on local communities. In conclusion two sides to this biofuel investment in Tanzania are presented. The potentials of financial capital which could be used in development projects in the village will be very favorable. On the other side there are substantial ecological consequences which will affect biodiversity, soil and water quality as well as the possible social effect the village could go through in this “transition”.

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