As fuel prices rise, firewood rustlers vex rural Kenya

(Reuters News, 15 Jul 2019) Rising fossil fuel prices combined with a ban on harvesting firewood in Kenya's forests is causing the problem, officials say.

Lucy Muthoni has never liked dogs. But these days, a pair of mean-looking hounds tail her as she makes the rounds at her farm in central Kenya.

The reason for her shift in attitude is an unusual crime wave sweeping through villages in rural Kenya: firewood theft.

"I was puzzled at first. Stealing firewood is not something that happens here. But when three other women from my village told me they had lost their firewood too, I decided to act," the 38-year old told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Muthoni lost a shoulder-high pile of firewood in late 2018. She usually stacks it at her farm during the dry season, for use later at home when the rains set in.

She cannot understand what has caused this crime wave, she said.

But local assistant police chief Lawrence Micheni linked the crime to increasing demand for firewood in rural shopping centres, as fuel prices rise and buyers try to cut costs.

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Reuters News, 15 Jul 2019: As fuel prices rise, firewood rustlers vex rural Kenya