Dr. Margaret Njirambo Matinga - Independent Consultant


My work is first to develop projects that address energy poverty in Sub-Sahara Africa (SSA) with a special focus on household energy. This would be through the introduction of cleaner energy alternatives (to open fire). The focus in this respect is to understand the interface between technology and society to enrich the understanding of why household members do things the way they do and what factors facilitate inertia as well as change. The question this work aims to answer is under what circumstances will households change to cleaner energy on a sustainable basis? In other words we would like to see clean energy technologies adopted on a permanent basis by understanding and working with communities' beliefs about their fuels, their kitchens and their roles as women and men. Secondly, our work aims to train mid-level and senior professionals in SSA in how to mainstream energy in developing projects. Based on our belief that all aspects of development will benefit when there are adequate and appropriate forms of energy, we aim to build capacity of personnel on how to include and account for sustainable energy in their initiatives. Our belief is that there is little that a clinic, a school, a home or a business can achieve when they do not have adequate energy, adequate lighting, appropriate cooking energy or energy for productive uses. Finally, we believe the best way to achieve our objectives is by sharing information across organizations, and among individuals - of what works and what doesn't. To this end, we engage in knowledge management activities and participate in as many forums as we can effectively contribute to.

Organization Type Independent Consultant

Contact Information

Primary Contact
Dr. Margaret Njirambo Matinga
Secondary Contact
Mr. James Robinson

Address 54 Motor Street
Johannesburg, Johannesburg
South Africa
Calling/Fax Instructions

Our Focus

Primary Initiatives, Target Populations, and Scope of Work:

Understanding perceptions of households with respect to health impacts of firewood collection and use of household energy carriers. This research was carried out in two villages in rural Eastern Cape. One village has forests around it, does not have a clinic and has no electricity. Households in this village primarily use wood and paraffin as cooking fuels. The other has a clinic, electricity and persons use purchased wood, paraffin and electricity as well as gas for cooking. The study shows that neither access to electricity nor access to clinics were critical in households' efforts to reduce indoor air pollution. It also found that cultural expectations of women's role and activities play a critical role in how indoor air pollution (and other aspects of health in the energy chain) are perceived. Finally, the research showed that a majority of rural health personnel do not consider indoor air pollution as being critically harmful to health.

Fuels/Technologies: Biomass
Liquid Petroleum Gas
Dung and electricity regardless of its source
Sectors of Experience: Behavior Change
Renewable Energy
Rural Development
Knowledge management; training, development of toolkits for assessing projects and for training professionals
Countries of Operation: Kenya
South Africa

Our Experience And Interest In The Four PCIA Central Focus Areas

Social/Cultural barriers to using traditional fuels and stoves:

The fact that the kitchen is a woman's domain is a critical factor in how women perceive and interpret indoor air pollution. In particular women are expected to meet a range of cultural expectations even when these expectations cause them to experience negative health effects. Another social barrier is that many rural communities are affected by a myriad of problems including but not limited to HIV/AIDS. Because HIV/AIDS has been the key focus of programs in the last two decades, many in rural communities including government officials, health professionals and households have come to consider it as the only health issue in their communities.

Market development for improved cooking technologies:

Although we are not in market development, the lessons from the research in Eastern Cape show that there is need for a good and desirable product and not a product that is targeted at poor people only and only enhances their sense of isolation. In this sense, we noted how people are ready to invest in expensive mobile phones because of the sense of inclusion but consider "development goods" as emphasizing their being "rural persons" which for most communities in SSA has a negative connotation.

Technology standardization for cooking, heating and ventilation:


Indoor air pollution exposure and health monitoring:

We are interested in helping organizations develop robust tools for monitoring uptake of improved cooking technologies in the long term, taking into consideration gender factors and cultural factors rather than depending on snapshop numeric data alone.

Relevant Publications or Studies

Matinga M.N 2010 We grow up with it: An ethnographic study of the experiences perceptions and responses to the health impacts of energy acquisition and use in rural South Africa PhD University of Twente

Matinga M.N 2009 Energy and health integrated programs with focus on indoor air pollution. Presentation at Liverpool School of Tropical Health, Liverpool BREATHE meeting.

Matinga M.N 2009 Energy, health and development- That 2 billion! Presentation made at the Stockholm Environment Institute Symposium on The potential climate and health co-benefits of switching to cleaner fuels and stoves in developing countries

Matinga M.N 2008 The making of hardiness in women’s experience of health impacts of wood collection and use in Cuntwini, rural South Africa in Medische Anthropologie 20 (2)

Matinga M.N 2008 A biofuels prenuptial: Questions for policy makers before the marriage in Renewable Energy for Development Stockholm Environment Institute – Newsletter of The Climate and Energy Programme 2008 Vol. 21 No. 1

Matinga M.N 2005 Energy as a Key Variable in Reducing Child Mortality: A Gender and Energy Perspective on Empirical Evidence on MDG #4 Unpublished report. ENERGIA.

Matinga M.N 2005 Energy as a Key Variable in Reducing HIV/AIDS and Major Diseases: A Gender and Energy Perspective on Empirical Evidence on MDG #6 Unpublished Report. ENERGIA.

Dutta S, Matinga M.N, Panjwani A and Cecelski E. 2005 Empirical Evidence for Linkages: Energy, Gender and the MDGs in ENERGIA Newsletter Vol 8 No 2.

Matinga M.N 2005 Integrating gender in the Malawi energy policy and policy formulation - processes of, and capacity for gender mainstreaming Report for OSSREA, June 2005

Marandu E and Kayo D (Eds) Implications of power sector reforms in Malawi for investment and the poor in The Regulation of the Power Sector in Africa: Attracting Investment and Protecting the Poor. ZED Books. 2004 (A book chapter).

Matinga M.N and Prasad G. 2004 Low-cost and pro-poor urban electrification in Malawi- Learning lessons for pro-poor electrification strategies in Africa in Proceedings of the Domestic Use of Energy Conference, Cape Town, South Africa.

Matinga M.N 2004 Pooling African power- Development, issues and challenges of integration in the power sector in Southern Africa in Monitoring of Regional Integration NEPRU Yearbook - Konrad-Adenuer, Windhoek, Namibia (A book chapter).

Matinga M.N. 2004 Attempting to Electrify the Urban Poor - A View of the Mbayani Low-cost Electrification in Blantyre, Malawi Presented at the "Improving Electricity Service for the Urban Poor” Workshop organised by ESMAP, USAID, COELBA, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Cities Alliance and Electricité de France, in Bahia, Brazil from 12-14 September , 2004.

Our Contribution to the Partnership

Sharing own experiences
Collaborating with other partners to develop tools
Collaborating with partners to develop projects
Collaborating with partners to lobby governments and organizations to take a stand on IAP for example by writing policy briefs and petitions to parliamentary committees