wePlanet Africa unveils campaign to reduce charcoal use on the continent


[Africa, February 8, 2024] wePlanet Africa, a grassroots organisation dedicated to tackling climate change and ending energy poverty, has launched a campaign to reduce the widespread use of charcoal as a source of cooking fuel across Africa.

Through the “Reduce Charcoal” campaign, wePlanet Africa is urging Africans to sign an online pledge and to take practical steps to reduce use of wood fuel in their homes and transition to other cleaner forms of energy including LPG, biogas and electricity.

The campaign that commits individuals to pledge to reduce charcoal use in their homes by 50% also seeks to raise awareness, promote sustainable alternatives, and combat the environmental challenges and health risks associated with the production and use of charcoal.

Besides agriculture, charcoal and other wood fuels are the leading cause of deforestation in Africa. According to the International Energy Agency’s regional energy outlook, more than 70 percent of families in Africa have no access to electricity and singularly depend on charcoal and other forms of wood fuel for cooking.

“This contributes a great deal to deforestation, which poses severe threats to the environment, contributes to climate change and indoor air pollution,” says Patricia Nanteza, wePlanet Africa Director.

Beyond its devastating impact on forests and ecosystems, the use of charcoal also poses health risks. According to a Unicef report titled Silent Suffocation in Africa, deaths from indoor air pollution in Africa have increased from 164,000 in 1990 to 258,000 in 2017 – a growth of nearly 60%.

According to the UN’s Food Agricultural Organisation, deforestation in Africa is happening 4 times faster than the global rate. The report notes that since 1990, over 200,000 square kilometres of forests in Africa have been lost. That is roughly four football pitches worth of forests per day for 20 years.

“Deforestation leads to loss of biodiversity, increases carbon emissions and disrupts ecosystems and water cycles – which worsens the disease burden among local communities due to climate change,” Ms Patricia said said while unveiling the campaign.

The ‘Reduce Charcoal Use’ campaign, therefore seeks to address these challenges by focusing on five key strategies. These strategies include raising awareness about the harmful impacts of charcoal use, promoting sustainable alternatives such as clean cook-stoves and renewable energy sources, strengthening legislative frameworks to deter illegal charcoal production, supporting local initiatives that create sustainable livelihoods, and fostering collaboration and partnerships among various stakeholders.

“Through this campaign, we hope to educate the public about the environmental impact of deforestation caused by charcoal production, raise awareness about the health risks related to indoor air pollution, advocate for the phase-out ban of charcoal usage and promote sustainable alternatives,” Timothy Machi, WePlanet Africa Kenya Country Coordinator, says.

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