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A burning issue: woodfuel, public health, land degradation and conservation in Sub-Saharan Africa

Wood energy fuelling the future

Wood is a key source of energy that has been used for millennia for cooking, boiling water, lighting and heating. In Sub-Saharan Africa, more than 90% of the population relies on woodfuel, i.e. firewood and charcoal, as a primary source of domestic energy, both in rural as well as in urban areas. woodfuelWoodfuel in Africa is a multi-billion business worth more than US$11 billion and is therefore a natural resource of major significance. Both population growth and urbanisation push up demand for this vital commodity; the socio-economic, health and environmental challenges associated with it also rise accordingly.

In November 2015, Dr. Mary Njenga, a scientist in bioenergy from the World Agroforestry Centre, held a presentation on the subject at the BirdLife Africa Secretariat in Nairobi.  In addition to outlining the issues related to the use of woodfuel, the main focus of discussion concerned viable local solutions. Those include tree planting, agroforestry, improved charcoal kilns, improved cookstoves, and the production of fuel briquettes from local waste. It is in the promotion and implementation of those local solutions that the Africa Partnership and other civil society organisations, can play a particularly important role in making woodfuel sustainable; local solutions and community empowerment are among the most effective means to start making that difference today. Read more

Blog  Albert Schenk, BirdLife International

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