By Nyima Bah
Stakeholders in the energy sector have validated the charcoal value chain report for 2021 at a local hotel in Bijilo.
The assessment is part of the efforts by the ministry to explore the gap between policy prescriptions and actual practices or outcomes, as well as to identify and promote viable options that address sustainable production, trade and consumption of charcoal, without compromising the forest resources of the country.
The document was commissioned and validated by the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources and supported by the UN body for food and agriculture organization, FAO.
The report aims to identify and promote viable options to address the country’s sustainable production and charcoal consumption. This report will a) inform the Gambia Government forestry policy formulation, as well as the development of a long term forestry sector plan taking into consideration the value and contribution of the charcoal industry to livelihood enhancement as well as the overall economy; b) provide an overview of different alternative domestic energy sources, available technologies, and prototypes of improved cooking stoves; and c) map out production centres and distribution facilities of alternative energies and improved cooking stoves.
The report will update the current data on the charcoal industry in The Gambia and build the charcoal value chain that identifies all relevant actors in charcoal production, marketing, transport, consumption, etc. It will quantify the value chain in detail to provide information on the existing charcoal production and consumption and overall economic significance. This report will represent future trends of charcoal production and consumption as an energy source for commercial and domestic purposes and provisionally identify alternative intervention priorities and opportunities.
The report will present margin analysis of all the value chain functions assessing: a) income and profit, quantities of coal handled by different actors identified and involved in the charcoal industry (production through to consumption), including their relationships; b) distribution of income and profit within and among actors along the value chain; and c) the mechanisms which determine revenue generation and revenue sharing in a given setting. Finally, the assessment will map-out charcoal hot spots in the country: delineate areas/regions within the country where interventions could have an impact on reducing deforestation and forest degradation; provide, quantify and analyse possible alternatives to charcoal as a source of energy; give an overview of existing improved cooking stoves and prototypes relative to the available alternative energy.
Speaking at the event, Alagie Manjang representative from the Ministry of Agriculture, said Gambians heavily rely on the biomass (fuelwood and charcoal) for domestic energy needs. “Fuelwood is the dominating energy source for about 92 per cent of the households; while some 40-65 per cent of urban households use charcoal for their various domestic energy needs (GBOS 2013). Consequently, Gambia’s natural resource base is undergoing widespread degradation, threatening the forest ecosystems with over-extraction of woodland trees. Recent studies presented a forest cover of only 28 per cent of the country’s land area.”
He added that the equilibrium that has existed between human needs, and the natural ecosystems is under “serious threat.”