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Need to save forests in Kilimanjaro region

 The president said that there is an urgent need to take forest officials to task who collude with unscrupulous citizens in felling trees recklessly. He challenged the authorities in Kilimanjaro Region to make sure that procedures for getting permits to cut down trees are followed, to reduce the alarming rate of deforestation.  

According to president Kikwete, the rate of deforestation was increasing in Kilimanjaro region, because leaders in the area are hardly making any effort in stopping the destruction. Forests have been reduced in areas surrounding Mount Kilimanjaro, resulting in soil erosion, the lack of water in catchment areas, low crop production and poverty.  The president lamented that corruption and greed are behind the increased illegal felling of trees. 

President Kikwete’s views reflect the recent report produced by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Dar es Salaam office, which asserts that 99.1 percent of the people in Moshi Rural district rely on biomass fuels for cooking. The report, produced in collaboration with experts from the Ministry of Energy and Minerals, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, Vice President’s Office, Prime Minister’s Office –Regional Authority and Local Government, Rural Energy Agency, Kilimanjaro and Mwanza regional secretariats in 2011.

“The district has access to the grid electricity, but the majority of the people are unable to use electricity for cooking as it eats into their budgets” says the report. Bariki Kaale, UNDP energy consultant says that construction and use of improved biomass stoves for cooking in Moshi district was found to be low cost with a high field impact.  

A conclusion from the study is that concerted multi-sectoral efforts are required to promote the use of improved biomass stoves for cooking as a priority component for poverty reduction.Tanzania is one of the world’s poorest countries, ranking 151 of 185 countries in terms of human development.  Even before the onset of the 2008 global economic and financial crisis, numerous obstacles in Tanzania reduced its potential for growth and poverty reduction in particular un-reliable energy supply. 

The country now faces the challenge of fostering development in an era of financial and economic crisis. There is a need to intensify low-cost high impact development initiatives.  According to Kaale, it is estimated that over 13 million people (34 per cent) live below the basic poverty line of approximately 40 US$ cents per day and around 38 million people (88.5 per cent) fall below the income poverty line of US$ 1.25 per day.  

Based on reports from the Vice President’s Office, the national target set by MKUKUTA one target was to reduce the number of people depending on biomass energy for cooking from 90 percent in 2003 to 80 percent in 2010.However, by end of 2010 the proportion of people using biomass fuels for cooking and with no affordable alternatives at national level was over 99 per cent. The number of people living on less than TZS 500 per person per day increased from 11.6 million in 2001 to 12.9 million in 2007. 

Kaale says that wide use of efficient biomass fuels will help the poor to reduce their energy costs and contribute to conservation of the environment. Tanzania is endowed with abundant energy resources namely biomass, electricity, natural gas, coal, solar, wind, geothermal, nuclear (from uranium), tidal and wave power that could meet the national energy demand on sustainable basis if wisely planned and used. 

According to Kaale, the main challenge to Tanzanian energy and environmental problems is the provision of robust strategies to ensure availability of efficient, reliable and affordable energy supplies in particular for cooking to all citizens as advocated by the National Energy Policy. 

The promotion of efficient biomass stoves is in line with the Tanzania Development Vision 2025 in particular section 4.2 that states “Investment in energy, water and telecommunications is also central to the stimulation of local and foreign investment and for creating wealth and employment generating activities”.

 Field results from Kilimanjaro region show that villagers are using improved biomass stoves and have improved their living standards. Initial results on construction and use of improved biomass stoves showed that annual investment of one US Dollar gives a financial return of US$ 82 excluding intangible benefits related to environmental conservation and climate amelioration. 

The majority of Tanzanians use the traditional three stone stoves that have energy efficiency of 7-12 percent depending on kitchen management.  Research shows that by using efficient biomass stoves with energy efficiency of around 25 to 30 percent. Kaale says that efficient biomass stoves in Tanzania are broadly classified into two categories namely firewood and charcoal stoves. 

“They are constructed using locally available raw materials that  include clay and sand. Nonetheless some catalytic support is equired to train village artisans trainers on improved biomass stove who will facilitate construction of improved stoves and train other villagers,” he says. Trained artisans on improved biomass stoves are assisted in forming Community Based Organisations at village level to enhance sharing of experiences, monitoring and evaluation and quality control of the constructed stoves. 

Fixed clay firewood stoves with chimneys can support two to three pots at a time are constructed in rural areas. Few portable clay firewood stoves are also available in the market mainly for small families.According to Kaale, charcoal stoves are mainly portable and are commonly used in urban areas. It is also possible to design an efficient clay stove that can use both firewood and charcoal. Institutions cooking for large number of people like prisons, secondary school, colleges and hospitals are encouraged to use efficient fixed institutional stoves that could use either charcoal or firewood.


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