Grappling with biofuels in Zimbabwe: Depriving or sustaining societal and environmental integrity?
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Some commentators on biofuel cultivation in developing countries suggest biofuel development may cause exploitation and marginalisation. Others suggest that on occasion biofuels can be a suitable option to advance local development. It is critical to broadly understand local conditions and sustainable biofuels implementation before determining development options specific to different biophysical, environmental, societal and power settings. In particular, there is a need to reflect on less exploitive, more equitable opportunities that uphold community integrity. This paper examines biofuel project implementation opportunities and impediments in a developing country in sub-Saharan Africa: Zimbabwe. Interviews were conducted in Zimbabwe with villagers, investors and other local stakeholders affected by a biofuel sugarcane case study project. The project was identified as having significant influences (positive and negative) on Zimbabwean rural populations. The article argues that through local education and capacity building, biofuel initiatives can uphold environmental and societal worthiness if developed in conjunction with effective sustainability design and implementation approaches. However, project sustainability, specific to localities, needs to be temporally verified for indirect impacts and socioeconomic and environmental equality, with particular focus on gender issues and under-privileged groups.
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