Spatiotemporal relationships between migration and fuel use in Malawi

Authors: Cyrus Sinai*, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
Topics: Medical and Health Geography, Migration, Energy
Keywords: energy poverty, migration, fuel, sub-Saharan Africa, Malawi
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Cleveland 2, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Indoor air pollution from biomass solid fuel use has been significantly linked to Acute Respiratory Infections (ARI), one of the leading causes of death in sub-Saharan Africa. Public health interventions aim to promote the transition up the ‘energy ladder’ from solid biomass fuels such as wood, charcoal and dung to more efficient and cleanly modern energy sources such as kerosene, liquid petroleum gas (LPG), and electricity. Existing literature shows that geographic location significantly impacts household fuel use, with urban households generally being more likely to engage in fuel switching than those in rural settings. In the context of rapid urbanization and rural-to-urban migration currently underway throughout much of sub-Saharan Africa today, however, there has been very little research on how migration influences fuel choice and fuel use, and the spatial and temporal dynamics that mediate changes in migrant household fuel use. To elucidate these mechanisms, this study uses nationally representative data from the Living Standards Measurement Study (LSMS) surveys in Malawi from 2000 to 2017 to compare fuel use patterns and associated factors between non-migrant and migrant households, which are defined (and disaggregated) by the number of years household members have lived in present location (where household was surveyed). Spatiotemporal regression methods are used to analyze and quantify the degree to which time of migration and migrant place of origin/destination influence household fuel use and fuel switching. This study can be useful for better understanding fuel switching dynamics in the context of urbanization and rural-to-urban migration in sub-Saharan Africa.

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