EU SUPPORTS THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT OF BAMBOO AS A SUITABLE ALTERNATIVE FOR FIREWOOD AND CHARCOAL PRODUCTION IN AFRICA (18/02/2010)
The European Union (EU) has contributed EUR 1.3 million (GHC 28 million) to support the management and sustainable development of bamboo as a new source of energy in Africa, precisely Ghana and Ethiopia. The support is being granted under the Project for Bamboo as sustainable Biomass Energy: A Suitable alternative for firewood and charcoal production in Africa.
The project is aimed at increasing the use of bamboo as a source of energy for the poor of Ethiopia and Ghana thereby providing a more sustainable, environmentally friendly and economical option to firewood and wood charcoal.
The 48 month project launched in March 2009 - 2013, is being coordinated by the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) in collaboration with the governments of Ghana and Ethiopia and other partners such as Rural Development and Promotion Centre (EREDPC), Ethiopia, Federal Micro and Small Enterprises Development Agency, (FeMSEDA), Ethiopia, Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG), Ghana Bamboo and Rattan Development Programme (BARADEP), Ghana and Nanjing Forestry University, (NFU), China.
The second steering committee meeting of the project was held in Accra in February 1, 2010, to review the process that has been made under the project in developing bamboo as a suitable alternative for firewood and wood charcoal.
Mr. Jannik Vaa, Head of Infrastructure and Sustainable Development Section, EU Delegation Ghana, told the meeting that through the project, the EU is supporting the sustainable management of Ghana's and Ethiopia's resources and helping to develop new sources of energy.
“It is absolutely critical that the processes of the project in both Ghana and Ethiopia respect existing Government policies and proactively help in promoting sector governance issues and raising awareness of environmental aspects and consequences of the project. In this respect one should be mindful of the deforestation taking place in both countries – and one must understand the causes for this and be aware that simply introducing a new energy source may not necessarily in itself solve all the problems”.
He said the project does offer real opportunities and “we trust that the project will engage with Governments in each country to make the intervention a successful pilot for larger scale at a later stage. This will require the full support of the Governments and most likely sector reforms which need to be sustained and extended in full co-operation with sector stakeholders, be they civil society organisations, industry or other important players.”
“As has been demonstrated here in Ghana around export of legal timber to the European market – interesting and positive things happen when you bring all stakeholders in a sector together in a genuine dialogue. It is our hope that this experience is rolled out to other natural resource sectors in Ghana and in other countries grappling with the same challenges of good governance in the management of their natural resource sectors”, Mr Vaa said.
The project, he noted is funded directly from the budget of the European Union and the global intervention of EUR 450 million over four years is targeted at: "Environment and sustainable management of natural resources, including energy
Ghana’s Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Henry Ford Kamal, said 70 percent of Ghana’s energy was obtained form wood sources, which without proper management is a serious affront to sustainable energy development in the country. According to him charcoal will continue to play a major role in energy in Ghana and that the idea of an alternative to wood charcoal was welcome, stressing that Ghana will promote the development of bamboo.
Mr. Yeragal Meskir Ejjigu, Director-General of the Federal Micro and Small Enterprises Development Agency (FEMSEDA) in Ethiopia, in a speech said from current demographic growth patterns and the slow transition to other forms of household energy, “it appears that the natural forests and woodlands remain the main source of fuel wood and the pressure on these forests will continue until alternative energy sources are supplied to satisfy needs”. He stressed that his government highly commends efforts currently being implemented to with the support of the EU which strives for sustainable development of the resource as alternative energy to wood and charcoal.
Earlier, the Director-General of INBAR, Ms. Coosje Hoogendoorn, said the project was all about developing bamboo as an alternative to wood charcoal which is a cause of deforestation in Africa. She said it was discovered at the recent UN conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen that one of the main causes of climate change is deforestation and degradation.
She stressed that it is not only about climate but also about development of livelihoods, mitigation, reduction of emissions and adaptation to natural disasters. According to the Director-General, bamboo can achieve all the above when its potentials are unlocked as alternative energy provider.
There was also a demonstration on the use of bamboo charcoal as a sustainable source of energy using specially made cookers.
EU Delegation to Ghana:
Rejoice Esi ASANTE