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Stakeholders showcase lessons, successes in fuel wood project

By Chinedum Uwaegbulam
26 April 2021   |   4:14 am
Fresh efforts were made recently to further lay the building blocks for local action in three states – Cross River, Delta and Kaduna, which will promote Sustainable Fuel Wood Management (SFM) in the country.

Participants at the three-day Sustainable Fuel Wood Management (SFM)forum organised by the Energy Commission and United Nations Development Programme.

Fresh efforts were made recently to further lay the building blocks for local action in three states – Cross River, Delta and Kaduna, which will promote Sustainable Fuel Wood Management (SFM) in the country.

The renewed vigour is courtesy of a five-year Global Environment Facility (GEF)’s 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.

The programme was a three-day multi-stakeholders interactive forum with SFM value-chain actors to showcase achievements, share experiences and mobilise grassroots capital for sustainable project outputs.

The forum was meant to create opportunity for stakeholders to evaluate their performance, share lessons learnt from the four years of the project’s implementation, and brainstorm on the most effective ways to sustain the established woodlots.

It was also meant to establish how clean cookstove manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers should be guided on how to diversify their enterprises to create sustainable clean cooking business models as well as establish close collaboration and buy-in of all value chain actors.

At the forum, the UNDP-GEF SFM National Project Coordinator, Okon Ekpenyong, said the project aimed at reducing Green House Gas (GHG) emissions from the use of fuelwood during domestic, institutional and industrial use through integrated and sustainable fuelwood production and utilisation. He also said it would also promote sustainable biomass energy technologies in Nigeria using market-based approaches.

Ekpenyong emphasised that it will also promote sustainable fuel wood production and consumption to secure the flow of multiple environmental benefits, including carbon storage and sequestration.

This, he said will be achieved through a number of initiatives, including management of the production and procurement of promotion of improved stoves/kilns in the domestic to reduce the demand for fuelwood, improve health and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

According to Ekpenyong, through the project, over 200 hectares of new renewable woodlots for sustainable fuelwood harvesting have been established with the three states. Besides, 25,00 energy-efficient wood/charcoal cookstoves were produced and disseminated among communities in three states.

He said SFM demonstration centres was built and operated in each of the states. “Energy-efficient charcoal production systems have been built in each state for sustainable production of charcoal from agricultural wastes, as against the traditional burning of logs of wood in shallow earth pits.

“Over 250 young women and men were trained as business agents for the promotion of clean cookstoves and woodlot establishment in Nigeria. Fourteen micro-finance institutions have been capitalised and capacitated to provide sustainable fuelwood management financing models that enables low-income groups in target communities to access no-interest loans for the purchase of energy efficient cookstoves.”

Members of Delta State stakeholders on sustainability plan of the SFM project, comprising Obadiah Okorafor, Owhoede Farmers Multipurpose Cooperative Society Limited; Mercy Ozeh of Merci Renewables; Gbenga Olokede, Energy Commission of Nigeria; Abu Austin, PERG Corporate Services Limited; Ojeblenu Andrew, Delta State Ministry of Environment, recommended that all the value chain actors should be members of the established SFM multipurpose cooperative society to create a platform for further synergy among various actors.

They called for consolidation of established plantations, continuous maintenance of woodlots; annual fire tracing round the plantation, expansion of plantation by acquiring more lands and planting, controlled exploitation and educating the CFC.

They also urged the state’s Ministry of Environment to provide seedlings and necessary support to anyone or group willing to establish woodlot and sought collaboration with International Oil Companies (IOCs) and oil companies in yearly tree planting campaigns, raising of one million tree seedlings and other environmental conservation projects.

Speaking on behalf of Kaduna state, Prof. Yahya Ibrahim of Kaduna State University, suggested the development of a group for interaction and synergy.

The team, comprising the Steering Committee Members, Micro Finance Groups, Cookstove Manufacturers and Community Forests Management Committee (CFMC), recommended that the state’s Ministry of Environment and Agriculture should write to all councils intimating them on the existence of the fuelwood and improve stoves, adding that CFMC should be trained to take up the challenge of propagating programme, especially improve stove and commercial nursery development.

They also suggested that CFMC cooperatives in the Local Government Areas (LGAs) be integrated with the micro finance banks through releases of fund, monitoring repayment and provision of investment training as well as sustenance in improve stove and forestry entrepreneurship in the state.

They added that members should be organised into groups to sensitise communities on the programme, while nursery operations and woodlots development loans need to be made available for the programme.

On the status of SFM project implementation in Cross River State, the State’s Coordinator, Peter Oru, said the challenges were extraction of dead wood from high forest, lack of counterpart funding, fire outbreak and vandalism.

Explaining the lessons learnt, Oru stated that the project does not align with policy direction of the state, and called for dialogue in affected community and introduction of agroforestry to increase individual ownership.

He said, “Manufacturers should improve on the quality of SFM stoves, embark on aggressive sensitisation as well as mass education on the health, safety and economic benefits of using clean cook stoves.

“To solve the problem of charcoal and deforestation, there is urgent need to establish a briquette manufacturing plant in Cross River State; this will help to turn our vast agricultural waste to wealth while creating jobs.

“Broad-based advertisement/ publicity of our clean cook stoves products through the multimedia both print, audio visual and practical exhibition of its services to people in Cross River State will engender visibility. Entrepreneurs should be granted access to financial loans from the micro finance banks to support clean cook stove business.”