New partnership for Biochar in Africa


Biochar. Photo: Oregon Department of Forestry / FlickR

The African Biochar Partnership was launched during an international workshop at the World Agroforestry Centre, Nairobi in early March 2016.

The partnership is aimed at improving coordination and communication among biochar initiatives as well as building capacity on biochar system approaches to help achieve optimal use of biomass and bio-waste.

Biochar can be defined simply as charcoal that is used for agricultural purposes. It is created using a pyrolysis process, heating biomass in a low oxygen environment. Biochar can be used in agriculture improve and maintain soil fertility and to increase soil carbon sequestration.

Two initiatives which were the focus of the Biochar Systems for Africa workshop and which will benefit from the partnership are the Biochar Plus project and the Biochar for Sustainable Soils (B4SS) initiative.

The Biochar Plus project is co-funded by the EU and the African Caribbean and Pacific States Cooperation Programme in Science and Technology, involving partners from Cape Verde, Ethiopia, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Togo, Zimbabwe and Italy.

B4SS is funded by the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), and involves partners in China, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Kenya, Peru, Vietnam and Australia. The World Agroforestry Centre leads activities in Kenya for the B4SS project, which builds on a long-term collaboration in Western Kenya with Cornell University and University of Nairobi.

The new African Biochar Partnership will facilitate knowledge sharing and agreement of standard methodologies for the thorough evaluation of biochar technologies from a systems perspective across the agricultural, energy, waste management and health sectors. It will comprise all relevant partners and stakeholders already working on biochar systems in Africa, including regional and international institutions inside and outside the continent.

The partnership will also facilitate the production and dissemination of improved cook stoves to help ameliorate the continuing problem of overreliance on woody biomass to meet domestic energy demand in sub-Saharan Africa.

Find out more on the website of the ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency'

Kate Langford

Kate Langford is a consultant writer with close to 20 years’ experience in communicating natural resource, environmental and land management issues for various government and non-government organizations. She previously worked as Communications Specialist for the World Agroforestry Centre in Kenya and has worked in Indonesia, Laos, Vietnam and Australia. She holds a Bachelor of Science and a Graduate Diploma in Scientific Communication.

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