Stakeholders have met in Calabar, Cross River State to brainstorm on viable ways of encouraging effective forest management through sustainable fuelwood production and consumption for multiple environmental benefits.
The stakeholders made up of small holder farmers, commercial fuelwood dealers, manufacturers (suppliers) of energy-efficient woodstoves, cookstove end-user’s representatives, micro finance institutions (MFIs), forestry experts, ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) PSC and state focal persons met under a 5-year Global Environment Facility (GEF) project: ‘Sustainable fuel wood management (SFM) in Nigeria’.
The project being implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with support from the Federal Ministry of Environment, the Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN) and other stakeholders has as its objectives to create a platform for critical stakeholders to share experiences and identify innovative business and financing models and establish close collaboration and buy in of all value chain actors amongst others.
Giving background of the project during the opening ceremony of the federal and state stakeholders’ meeting, the SFM project team leader, Engr. Okon Ekpenyong said achieving the objectives required close collaboration and involvement of all fuelwood-value chain actors, namely fuelwood supply side actors (forest custodians, landowners, male and female rural farmers, commercial fuelwood sellers and buyers, etc), fuelwood demand side actors (efficient cookstove/kiln producers, sellers and end-users (domestic, industrial and institutional) as well as the different business models and financial schemes from community-based financial experts like MFIs to optimize the benefits.
He said the SFM business forum aimed to jointly build the capacity of value chain actors in the fuelwood sector in order to link up the supply and demand sides of fuelwood with that of the energy-efficient woodstoves and appropriate business/financial models for rural communities.
“This forum therefore is to create opportunity for fuel wood value chain actors to interact among themselves and exchange experiences, develop skills, and share knowledge and ideas on innovative business and financing models.
The forum will focus on the establishment of smallholder farmers’ managed woodlot, establishment of sustainable fuelwood markets, promotion of energy efficient woodstoves through market-based approaches with community-based micro-credits to incentivize woodlot owners and end-users of cookstoves.
“This interaction is intended to catalyse enhanced cooperation among fuelwood value chain actors and enable governments to integrate sustainable fuelwood management considerations more rapidly into the ongoing national forest conservation process,” Ekpenyong said.
Speaking to LEADERSHIP, the Cross River State focal person, UNDP GEF SFM project, Dr Edu Effiom, emphasised that the stakeholders’ meeting was not a flash in the pan sort of meeting but aimed at facilitating a networking process with a clear cut goal of reducing fuelwood usage.
He said: “The meeting today is about moving a step further in the project, we’ve sensitized the people, we’ve created awareness on the need to sustainably use fuelwood rather than cutting down the whole forest; we can set up fuelwood lots where we can manage it, plant, harvest, replant.
“It goes beyond the availability of having the fuelwood, now the utilization is important, that’s where the second objective of this project, energy efficient clean cookstove comes in because you can use two bundles of firewood in the tripod stand and you can finish it with two pots of soup but with the clean cookstove two bundles can go even for one month.
“So, that’s the idea, to increase the health of our people because with the tripod stand a lot of gas is emitted into the environment causing hazard to the environment and health, and mostly it’s the women or children.
“Apart from creating awareness, we’ve asked the fabricators to bring their stoves which were tested and people made contacts, networked with others to know their reach and contacts. Then we also brought in the MFIs which we can pass through as a conduit for which our community people can acquire these stoves. Some may not be able to pay for it at a go but through the microfinance they can get soft loans whereby they can pay at ease within a spread-out period.”
In an exclusive chat with LEADERSHIP, the chief executive officer of ROSHAN Renewables, Happy Amos, a clean cookstove dealer, said the power of information could not be underestimated, pointing out that education is the key to changing habits and trends.
“You cannot underestimate the power of information. So, if people are educated and given information about a certain thing it brings about action. This kind of workshop is very important because it educates people and gives them information. So, it’ll go a long way in improving the sector. The best ways to cut down on fuelwood usage is to have palliative measures like clean cookstoves; if we have clean cookstoves that burn fuel efficiently then it reduces waste but as it is now the clean cookstoves we’re using is only 10 per cent but if we have clean cookstoves that is 50/60 per cent efficient it goes a long way in reducing the rate at which we cut trees,” she said.
Similarly, a woodlot owner, Rebecca Kachiro, revealed that acquiring more knowledge would help sensitise other rural dwellers on sustainable fuelwood management with a view to conserving the environment as well as reducing the negative trends of greenhouse gas emission, health risk associated with unsustainable practices.
Earlier, the managing director/chief ececutive officer, Standard Microfinance Bank, Kwoi, Kaduna State, Yado Tamino Sule, said stakeholders’ interaction had the capacity to trigger ripple effects that could create jobs, improve health as well as conserve the environment.
“We describe things as a double-edged sword but I see this as a multiple edged sword in the sense that from this programme if we implement what we have learnt here we would have saved our environment which is the main purpose of the meeting., we would have created jobs, made profit and saved the environment at the same time,” he added.
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