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For less charcoal consumption, use energy saving stove

ADVOCACY on the use of energy saving of fuel efficient stoves has always focused on rural areas where presumably almost all residents, (approximately 90 percent of all households) use firewood for cooking.

However, environmentalists think there should be a change of approach and focus on urban areas where the consumption of charcoal and firewood is even greater.

Discussing the energy situation in Tanzania, they said that statistics show that urban areas need more of such advocacy because of the patterns of use and demand of the charcoal and firewood.

Their argument is supported by a Policy Brief on ‘Biomass Energy: Marginalized but an Important Energy Source for the Majority in Tanzania’ issued by the Tanzania Traditional Energy Development Organization (TaTEDO) in March, 2016.

The brief said that about 71 percent of all urban households in Tanzania consume charcoal while about 19 percent use firewood. The brief showed that in Dar es Salaam, 91 percent of all households consumed charcoal in 2012, and 3 percent consumed firewood.

According to another study by Neema Msuya, Abraham Temu and Enock Masanja of the Department of Chemical and Mining Engineering of the University of Dar es Salaam, titled ‘Environmental Burden of Charcoal Production and Use in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania which was produced in a Journal of Environmental Protection in January, 2011, over one million tonnes of charcoal is used for cooking annually in Tanzania’s urban areas.

“This is equivalent to 109,500 ha of forest loss,” they pointed out, saying the increasing tendency to use charcoal instead of electricity or LPG is driven by availability of charcoal and its presumed low price.

Increased consumption of charcoal results in increased forest cover loss,” the researchers said. Some of the impacts of the forest loss is the degradation of water sources, reduction in soil quality and hence decreases in agricultural productivity, damaged habitat, diminishing biodiversity, and reduced sequestration of carbon dioxide by trees.

The average charcoal consumption in Dar es Salaam (based on 2009 data) was 1904 tonnes/day, equals to 694,960 tonnes per year. Using this charcoal consumption as the basis, the projection for the charcoal demand for the next 20 years with respect to population growth shows only twenty years to come (in 2030) more than 18 million tonnes of charcoal will be consumed in Dar es Salaam.

They said that what it means for the environment is that more than 2.8 million ha of forest will be cut to fulfill the demand charcoal for Dar es Salaam alone. Also, the pro-cess of producing and using this amount of charcoal has huge impact on the environment as measured by the amount of gases which will result and emitted to the atmosphere.

Charcoal production and use will result in about 2.5 tonnes of CO2 annually, making a total of 49.7 million tonnes of CO2 up to 2030. “This is a disaster”, they pointed out, saying that not only to human health, but also to environment and other creatures.

The higher the production rate for charcoal the higher the removal of trees and at last no carbon sink. Because of inefficiency of the kilns and charcoal stoves a total of 20 million tonnes of CO will be released to the atmosphere up to 2030.

This is unhealthy, they argued, given its poisoning potential. Other gases resulting from production and use of charcoal in Dar es Salaam are 9,830,000, 1,109,000 and 12,478,000 tonnes of NO2, SO2 and CH4 respectively,” they summed up.

A presentation made by the Tanzania Traditional Energy Development Organization (TaTEDO) by Shima Sago fortified the argument showing that Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar were the main markets for the charcoal produced in Rufiji, Lindi and Kilwa, although to some extent Tunduru also supply charcoal to Dar es Salaam.

The statistics were obtained through a baseline survey conducted by TaTEDO in the Ruvuma landscape comprising four regions in Southern Tanzania via a project known as ‘Leading the change: Civil society, Rights and Environment”, specifically the energy component being financed by the WWF.

The objective of the TaDEDO project, according to Sago, is to assess the current energy situation and provide inputs for detailed planning of the energy interventions in the programme areas. Main findings show that the use of LPG is increasing and this has been revealed through Gas suppliers who are available nearly in all surveyed areas.

(Six sales points in Kilwa and five in Tunduru) Electricity from the grid has been extended in nearly all the surveyed area, although very few households are connected. Solar energy for lighting seems to be popular in many villages An energy consultant, Denis Mwendwa, said that despite those stack facts, advocacy efforts on energy saving stoves have concentrated on rural areas.

He called for a change in the approach to target urban households whose demand for charcoal is continuing to grow. Mwendwa said that the problem in the use of other sources of energy is based on perception over the use of charcoal against such sources as Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and electricity.

“Many people think that gas or electricity is expensive, but what they do not know is that if one calculates the amount of money used in charcoal they would appreciate the need for turning to other sources of energy other than charcoal,” he said.

He added that the major challenge is the lack of knowledge of the real cost of the use of gas or electricity for domestic purposes. “Many people think gas and electricity is expensive,” he said, adding that if people are educated on the other sources of power.

The use of LPG is increasing and this has been revealed through Gas suppliers who are available nearly in all surveyed areas. (For instance, six sales points in Kilwa and five in Tunduru). TaTedo suggests various technologies that could be encouraged in urban areas to reduce use of charcoal consumption in urban areas.

He mentioned them as Sustainable Charcoal Production Methods, Fabrication of Improved Charcoal stoves for households and restaurants, improved charcoal baking oven for mini bakeries/entrepreneurs, improved Institutional stoves for restaurant, fish markets and schools and Solar technology-main focus will be on the provision of after sale service.

Other potential technologies are Solar dryer– could be used in drying sardine and agriculture produce, Efficient cooking with electricity (cook), biogas–potential exists to develop biogas systems for institutions and households and LPG.

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Author: GEORGE SEMBONY in Bagamoyo

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