Joint Programme on Charcoal Reduction and Alternative Livelihoods works with new Government and Donors to kick off Implementation for 2017

kick-off meeting in Mogadishu

Kick-off meeting in Mogadishu. Credits: UN pictures

A workshop was held in Mogadishu last week to initiate the “joint programme for sustainable charcoal reduction and alternative livelihoods” with the new government. 

The event, jointly organised by FAO and UNDP Somalia, was attended by senior managements from respective sector ministries at national and regional level, including the Ministry of Livestock, Forestry and Range and the Ministry of Gender and Women Affairs.
Although charcoal production and export from Somalia have been in practice since pre-colonial times to meet local and regional energy demand, many of the challenges the country was facing during the last two decades, such as the breakdown of state institutions, protracted conflict, the absence of alternative sources of energy and limited livelihoods options, to name just a few, have led to unsustainable production and high trade of charcoal on the international market. Between 1995 and 2005, an increase of 300% in charcoal production has been recorded in the country. The damages on the environment are severe, with massive depletion of forest and a wide range of resources.
In a more recent study made by SWALIM, JRC-EU and Twente University and covering the Jilib area in Southern Somalia, it was estimated that 520,520 trees were cut inside the 6,000 km2 study area between 2011-2013, that is an estimated 3,3% tree loss over the 2 years. 

Despite the export ban on charcoal declared by the government, exports have not effectively been halted and keep on fuelling the war economy. The Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG) reported that in 2013 the charcoal trade was involving a revenue ranging from 360-380 million per year from illegal exports, in benefit of militia groups and intermediaries who act as gatekeepers. 

Charcoal production remains the main source of livelihood for many poor and vulnerable households and biomass resources, sufficient to meet the population’s needs, are currently underused.

Adressing the previous issues, the Proscal Programme is meant to promote energy security and more resilient livelihoods through a gradual reduction of sustainable charcoal production, trade and use.

In this line, the workshop intended to inform different stakeholders about the project design. Implementation was another important topic and the programme team, together with stakeholders, agreed on the geographic focus areas and timelines for the programme in 2016 and who the interlocutors to help coordinating the project should be.
Divided in several thematic subgroups, participants were also able to contribute inputs to the programme’s implementation on energy, livestock and agriculture, and to come up with recommendations. 

Moalim Mohamud Ahmed, Environment Minister for South West State, emphasized the negative impacts of charcoal trade and use to the environment, pastoral communities and Somali population at large. “it’s time to act effectively at national and regional level”, he said, emphasizing the urgent need for strong political commitment, regulatory frameworks, and community sensitization on all levels to fight the illegal trade while opening up alternative livelihood opportunities to the population. 
The workshop was well appreciated by the participants, who felt ownership of the project and showed interest and commitment.

This programme is being jointly implemented by UNDP, UNEP and FAO with generous support from the EU, Italy, and Sweden.

Felling-live-A.-busei-tree-by-burning-near-Ceelbu-29.09.2005-2Deforestation. Credits: Simon Mumuli, FAO SWALIM
Charchoaltruck-for-Hargeisa-2Charcoal Production. Credits: Simon Mumuli, FAO SWALIM