National Charcoal Strategy Not Addressing Deforestation - Activists

Some of the impounded charcoal Some of the impounded charcoal - file photo

Environmental activists Godfrey Mfiti and Mathews Malata say inadequate funding and failure to popularize National Charcoal Strategy are affecting its implementation which aims at addressing the increased deforestation in the country.

Mfiti has told Zodiak that the strategy remains a desk document in the files which is leaving out local communities like charcoal producers on how to make sustainable charcoal using non forest products such as, briquettes,

"The fact is, those people burning charcoals in the villages are known by their local communities. However, they remain segregated whenever such kind of policies are being made," Mfiti said.

Malata says partially, the strategy is making some strides in law enforcement and meting stiffer punishments to illegal charcoal producers, but insists under-funding is still choking efforts to end deforestation.

"What we need to do now is to sell out the strategy to all the key stakeholders. We also need to ensure that our communication is very standardized.

"But on the other hand, what we need also is resources to implement the issues that are in there. At the moment the department is under-funded, so you might see already that the just presented budget, forestry sector has not been given enough resources. It is not visible on the ground in terms of human resource and operations. The strategy on its on is very good," Malata said.

However, Director of Forestry in the Ministry of Natural resources and climate change, Dr. Clement Chilima, believes the 10-year framework is addressing the linked problems of increased deforestation and growing demand for cooking and heating fuel, enforcing laws to limit illegal charcoal production in the country.

"The strategy was not designed to be talking to illegal charcoal operators. We are going to deal with them so that they find other alternatives to do. So just looking at one pillars, it’s unfair. The strategy has got seven pillars. We are looking into that.

"In fact, there are situations where we have engaged the charcoal makers and giving them alternatives to survive. But we can't be everywhere thousands of people are burning charcoal. Other pillars include law enforcement where we are winning the battle,” Chilima said.

In 2017, government launched a 10 -year National Charcoal Strategy to address the linked problems of increased deforestation and growing demand for cooking and heating fuel, with defined and prioritized near-term, medium-term and long-term actions.

Among others, the strategy is aiming at promoting the adoption of alternative cooking and heating fuels, stimulating wide-scale adoption of fuel-efficient charcoal and firewood cookstoves, increasing sustainable wood production for biomass energy, enforcing laws to limit illegal charcoal production and ensuring availability of information, awareness and communications for behavior change adoption by 2027.

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