New report: The current and future role of paraffin in South Africa

Health and safety issues related to paraffin have long been a critical issue in South Africa and yet it remains an overlooked policy issue. This report was commissioned by the Paraffin Safety Association (PASASA) – which has since expanded its mandate to become the Household Safety Association (HESASA). Through wide-ranging interviews with public, private and academic stakeholder,s as well as focus groups with low-income paraffin users, the report investigates what the future role of paraffin could and should play in South Africa.

An overview of some of the key findings in the report:

  • Paraffin poses significant health and safety risks to low-income households who use this fuel for cooking, heating and lighting. These risks, rather than inherent to the fuel itself, arise due to various inadequacies in the system of supply. The principal barrier to overcoming these challenges and mitigating risks was found to be a lack of ambition from the Department of Energy to play a leading role in this regard.
  • The energy sector’s policy framework outlines clear responsibilities for the Department of Energy in relation to safe usage of all household energy carriers. Policy includes provisions to address safety issues relating to appliances, packaging and labelling, and public education and awareness.
  • Displacement of paraffin entirely from the household fuel mix does not appear viable in the short to medium term. Significant demand and supply barriers were identified in relation to increasing the usage of alternative modern fuels such as LPG and electricity. Nevertheless both of these alternatives could play a greater role in meeting household energy than they currently do.
  • Energy safety is a cross-cutting public policy issue. It requires the co-ordination of a diverse range of government institutions at both the national and local level.
  • Development of a national household energy strategy is necessary to bring coherence to the current disjointed manner in which household energy programmes are conceptualised and implemented. Such a strategy should clearly establish clear short, medium and long-term policy goals to give clarity to the sector; and address all relevant issues relating to access, affordability, efficiency, health and safety, and environmental safety.

The report can be downloaded here: Investigating the current and future role of paraffin in South Africa