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CONSERVATION

Kwale charcoal producers trained on improved technology to conserve environment

The training programme was rolled out by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Kenya in partnership with the ministry of energy, Kenya Forestry Research Institute and Kenya Forest service

In Summary

•The project is part of the efforts to combat the effects of global warming and help the government achieve the 10 per cent forest cover

•The training is taking place in Kilifi county Energy Center involving the forest-dependent communities who solely rely on charcoal burning activities for livelihood

Hundreds of Kwale county charcoal producers will benefit from the environmental conservation training aimed at improving livelihoods and uplifting the standards of living of the local communities. https://bit.ly/3t562US

WWF office Neema Suya speaks in an interview in Kilifi county on Saturday 12, 2022.
CONSERVATIST: WWF office Neema Suya speaks in an interview in Kilifi county on Saturday 12, 2022.
Image: SHABAN OMAR

Hundreds of Kwale county charcoal producers will benefit from the environmental conservation training aimed at improving livelihoods and uplifting the standards of living of the local communities.

The training programme was rolled out by World Wide Fund for Nature, Kenya in partnership with the ministry of Energy, Kenya Forestry Research Institute and Kenya Forest Service.

The project is part of the efforts to combat the effects of global warming and help the government achieve the 10 per cent forest cover.

The training is taking place in Kilifi county Energy center involving the forest-dependent communities who solely rely on charcoal burning activities for livelihood.

Charcoal creation undertakings are highly known for forest degradation and environmental pollution.

WWF officer Neema Suya said the locals are trained on improved methods of charcoal production and cooking to reduce the pressure on natural forests and conserve the environment.

“We are empowering the communities to seek alternative sources of energy for cooking and adopt new technology of efficient charcoal creation to lessen over-reliance on trees,” she said.

The locals receive the training under the umbrella of the Charcoal Producers Associations. They comprise of 12 groups that are expected to pass the knowledge to the rest of the communities.

The groups originate from Kinango, Samburu and Lunga Lunga.

This is because the three subcounties are the hardest hit by the charcoal burning vice in the coast region since most residents depend on it for livelihoods.

Some years back, the national government banned charcoal burning and illegal logging to prevent forest destruction, but locals devised new ways to harvest tree forests despite the ban.

The obliteration of the forests has led to the massive loss of indigenous trees endangering the ecosystem.

Currently, majority of the coastal parts are affected by severe drought, deforestation being the key reason for the disaster.

Suya said the programme will see residents minimise tree felling for charcoal burning and use effective techniques that are environment-friendly.

The long-lasting goal is to make the locals use less wood resources for high quality and quantity charcoal production.

She said the forest communities are advised to adopt pruning old branches rather than cutting the whole tree whose consequences are devastating.

They are also taught how to make charcoal briquettes, biogas and take advantage of advanced skills in sustainable charcoal fabrication.

The charcoal blocks can be made using various waste resources without necessarily going for trees.

KEFRI research scientist Emily Kitheka said they have researched various improved kiln technologies for charcoal making that champion environmental management.

She said they are preparing the forest communities and enabling them to move from inefficient kilns to better ones that have a higher rate of charcoal production with minimal effects.

“If we look at the traditional earth kilns, they consume a lot of firewood and produce small amounts of charcoal and are of poor quality,” she said.

Kitheka said the modified kilns can produce 25-35 kilos of charcoal bags from one tone of wood, unlike the traditional earth mound kilns that give approximately 10-15 kilos.

Some of the newly invented Kilns are the improved traditional earth mound, Adams retort and Portable metallic kiln.

According to her, the portable kiln is the most effective, it has a high charcoal recovery rate and takes about 48 hours to be ready. The others take days or weeks for charcoal to be harvested.

The kilns are affordable and can be  made locally in the market.

Kitheka said the locals are also coached on sustainable tree harvesting for charcoal burning whereby they are encouraged to establish tree nurseries for both exotic and indigenous trees.

The idea is to empower locals to embrace the system of tree replacement after cutting the old ones for regeneration purposes.

Kilifi KEFRI research officer Timothy Namaswa said  the adoption of advanced technologies and sustainable production will narrow down the health and climatic dangers brought by poor human livelihood activities.

“We are not promoting charcoal burning but we want to reduce it in the most effective ways possible because improved methods mean fewer trees and pollution,” he said.

Kwale KFS officer Maghanga Blessington said the forest cover in the region was at 5.2 per cent terming it very low.

Blessington blamed the illegal tree cutting and charcoal burning for the decrease in forests in Kwale.

He said sustainable charcoal harvesting will spearhead the protection for natural regeneration.

Kwale CPA chairperson Chakaya Mtunda said the training programme comes at a time when they need it most, saying the ban on charcoal negatively affected their lives.

He said they will consider alternative ways of making charcoal and income without tampering with nature.

“The training will play a huge part in our lives because we have learnt how to source for biogas using livestock waste, creating charcoal briquettes and relying on suitable technology for charcoal production,” he said.

(Edited by Francis Wadegu)

Kwale charcoal producers conduct experiment production of charcoal using teh traditional earth mound and improved earth mound kilns in Kilifi county on Saturday, March 12, 2022.
DEMONSTRATIONS: Kwale charcoal producers conduct experiment production of charcoal using teh traditional earth mound and improved earth mound kilns in Kilifi county on Saturday, March 12, 2022.
Image: SHABAN OMAR
Kwale charcoal producers display charcoal produced by improved technology after holding trials in Kilifi county on Saturday, March 12, 2022.
PRODUCTION: Kwale charcoal producers display charcoal produced by improved technology after holding trials in Kilifi county on Saturday, March 12, 2022.
Image: SHABAN OMAR
Kwale charcoal producer carry shovel to make charcoal using the traditional earth mound Kiln in Kilifi county on Saturday, March 12, 2022.
CHARCOAL MAKING: Kwale charcoal producer carry shovel to make charcoal using the traditional earth mound Kiln in Kilifi county on Saturday, March 12, 2022.
Image: SHABAN OMAR
Locals surround portable metallic kiln at Kilifi Energy Center in Kilifi county on Saturday, March 12, 2022.
TECHNIOLOGY: Locals surround portable metallic kiln at Kilifi Energy Center in Kilifi county on Saturday, March 12, 2022.
Image: SHABAN OMAR
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