This week our correspondent GERALD KITABU interviewed Advocacy Officer for Tanzania Community Forest Conservation Network (MJUMITA) ELIDA FUNDI on the organization’s sports bonanza on sustainable charcoal production organized in Kilosa District, Morogoro region over the weekend. EXCERPTS:
QUESTION: You recently organised a sports bonanza on sustainable charcoal production in Kilosa. What was the aim of the bonanza?
ANSWER: The bonanza was aimed at promoting and creating awareness among community members on sustainable charcoal project, advocating for the adoption of sustainable charcoal production technologies as well as creating good relationship among community members in the project areas through sports. Sustainable charcoal project is a partnership project that aims to establish a commercially viable value chain for legally, sustainably produced charcoal. The overall goal is to improve climate change adaptation and mitigation; to enhance environmental sustainability and to leverage returns on biomass resources; thereby delivering sustainable development in Tanzania.
The project is implemented in a partnership between Tanzania Community Forest Conservation Network (MJUMITA) and Tanzania Forest Conservation Group (TFCG). It is financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). The proposed project lifetime is six years, comprising a two year inception and design phase and a four year period of expanded implementation. The project was launched in June 2012 in Kilosa District.
Q: How do you intend to achieve the targeted goal?
A: In achieving the targeted goal, the project has already identified charcoal-making households which will be trained in improved production systems using low-cost, efficient technology such as the improved basic earth kilns. These will be introduced to the market proposition of selling into branded markets for sustainably sourced charcoal. It is assumed that a significant number of consumers will be willing to pay higher prices for legal, traceable charcoal, that independent systems can be developed for ensuring that all branded charcoal comes from credible participatory forest management (PFM) systems, and that the benefits for communities from legal, sustainably sourced charcoal outweigh those from current harvesting and production systems.
Community members are widely adapting sustainable and energy efficient charcoal production technologies and are sustainably producing charcoal from woodland in the village forest reserves particularly in those areas set aside for sustainable harvesting. Also sustainable charcoal is produced using efficient kiln technology and is transported and sold in accordance with national regulations.
Q. What groups are you targeting?
A. This project is targeting charcoal-producing households in eight villages in forest-adjacent areas of Kilosa Districts, village natural resource committees in the same villages who will have the responsibility of managing forests on village land and for developing and enforcing by-laws, in return for new revenue from charcoal royalties and carbon finance via REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) and other voluntary market channels, small-scale farmers in forest-adjacent communities, district council staff, charcoal transporters and dealers supplying charcoal from Kilosa to Tanzania’s towns and cities and eco-conscious charcoal buyers in Dar es Salaam and other urban centres who would be able to buy legal, sustainably branded charcoal products.
Q. Why did you choose Kilosa as your project area?
A. Over the last decade, communities in Tanzania have established 814 village forest reserves covering 2.3 million hectares of forest and woodland. Sustainable charcoal production could offer a much-needed revenue stream for these reserves as well as providing rural employment.
The project chose Kilosa District as its project area because MJUMITA and TFCG have been working for several years now in 18 villages establishing community based forest management (CBFM) within a pilot programme for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD). Efficient charcoal production and a package of support for forest-friendly agriculture is being introduced within the REDD framework. The project will be linking sustainable charcoal production with ongoing REDD (Reducing greenhouse gas Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in developing countries) initiatives. Related support to sustainable agriculture will ensure that soil conservation, fertility improvement and forest protection are promoted.
A mechanism is being developed for a cooperative to channel funds from voluntary carbon markets to communities that have voluntary emission reductions (VERs), through their participation in CBFM. This component will have strong linkages to the charcoal market in Dar es Salaam and other centres of demand, where a professional and targeted marketing programme will launch sustainably branded charcoal into premium markets. This component will build up strong supply chain linkages between up-scale urban consumers and low income rural suppliers at community level in the Central Corridor. This component will also have a linkage to the voluntary carbon market through REDD and others.
Q. Any challenges faced?
A: Initially the price for sustainably produced charcoal is expected to be higher than illegally produced charcoal and this might prevent many from buying the product resulting in little profit reaching the villages. This might discourage people to continue believing and supporting the sustainable set-up but the promotion of fuel-efficient stoves can compensate for expected increases in