By Fatou Saho
The national consultant hired by ECOWAS to develop a draft strategy for Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) promotion and popularization in The Gambia, Cany Jobe, has said the plan, if implemented, will help in mitigating climate change challenges and increase the health conditions of Gambians especially women and girls.
Madam Jobe also mentioned that during her study on the strategy, she learned that the long-term climate strategy of the Gambia does not include LPG.
“The alarming part of the climate change nexus is a call for action, for the fact that we are rapidly losing our forest cover.
The Department of Forestry are saying that we are losing 10,000 hectares of our forest cover every year and we have lost 97,000 hectares already. We are already marked as a Sahelian zone that is on the path to desertification.
We don’t have firewood in ample supply. We don’t have charcoal in ample supply but still people are cutting down trees to make these things. So, the promotion and popularization of the LPG will help in mitigating some of these things that contribute to climate change. The inhaling of smoke could have very severe health implications. LPG has no nitric oxide emission, and it has much lower carbon dioxide emission than even the bio gas. It burns the cleanest out of all the non-renewable fuels. So, because of that, it will also prevent the high prevalence of respiratory diseases. Another health benefit is that it will remove indoor air pollution”, Cany Jobe explained.
She however stated that despite the above-mentioned benefits of LPG, “it is cheaper at current prices than charcoal and firewood even with the price imbalance in the market. All it requires is government’s intervention to ensure there is mass awareness, promotion and popularization under the conditions of safety and usage because a lot of people are scared of it, they do not know how to handle LPG”.
“At least 4 million deaths annually noted to be prematurely linked to the inhalation from the smokes and fumes and about 900 million Africans do not have access to clean cooking fuel, which includes 1.7million Gambians. Household energy contributes to 80% of Gambia’s energy needs, like cooking, heating and other domestic energy needs. 12% of Gambian households have access to an LPG stove, but actually it’s only about 2% that use it as the main cooking foil”, she highlighted.
The strategy targets to increase usage of LPG from 15% to 50% in the Gambia within the next seven years and from 50% to 100% by 2050.
The consultant, Cany, emphasised: “ECOWAS in its speed to rapidly increase LPG penetration and usage, would be making available 20million LPG cylinders of 6kg to all ECOWAS states, and the Gambian number of households is just 1.5% of that number”.
That being said, she added that the Gambia government has pledged to implement the document but also urged them to continue their support and make it a priority plan of action for its quick implementation in the country.