Friday, February 26, 2010

High Charcoal demand threatens forests

Report by Yussuf Maleli, VoicesofAfrica mobile reporter in Kibwezi, Kenya
Posted on Thursday 25 February 2010 - 11:05

The recent years in Kibwezi, eastern Kenya have witnessed an increase in the consumption of charcoal. The consequence has been twofold: the charcoal trade booms while the forests loses more and more ground.
The increase started to be observed in the 1970s when the area was attracting more migrants. Then was Kibwezi called called Ngwata a local term which means to posses. Land acquisition by the new settlers was done in anarchy in the absence of the authority, which justifies the destruction of the forest.

‘The business now is good because we are buying a bag at Ksh 350 and sell at Ksh 400; this is because the demand is high’, say Mr. Benjamin Mutuku a charcoal broker in the town of Kibwezi.

‘I, as a resident of this town, use charcoal because as we know firewood is not available, other fuels like paraffin are expensive’ , says another resident, adding: ‘We are aware that charcoal destroys trees but we don't have alternatives’ .

The most worrying problem now is that deforestation is nearing the Cyulluh National Park and Tsavo east National Park where a few bushfires have been recorded. Concerted efforts by the government and conservation agencies have tried to reverse the effect by banning charcoal and encouraging tree planting within communities, but this is showing little effect in the light of this looming danger. An alternative is needed. Quickly.

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