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CRM PROJECT COUNTY FORUM ON SUSTAINABLE CHARCOAL PRODUCTION, THARAKA NITHI COUNTY, 20th FEBRUARY 2014

Kenya’s Forest has been fast disappearing owed to increased population hence diversification of land use activities. Consequently, the growing population has also resulted to increased energy needs for both industries and households. Biomass on the other hand has been a major source of this energy among them wood fuel and charcoal. This has therefore been detrimental in the efforts to achieve the 10% tree cover aimed at by the vision 2030. Charcoal production has been termed as an illegal business but with the enactment of the Forest Act 2009, it was legalized with clear stipulated guidelines put in place to ensure sustainable charcoal production is optimized.

According to a baseline survey conducted by Green Africa Foundation, there is high charcoal production of charcoal in Tharaka Nithi County. Needless to say this production has been continuously carried out in unsustainable manner which, without intervention will drastically affect the counties environment flora and fauna. There will be increased vulnerability to climate change and their levels and ability to adapt shall be reduced.

Green Africa Foundation with the support of ACT, CRM facility held a Tharaka Nithi Leaders forum to discuss status and effects of charcoal production in the county. In collaboration with Kenya Forest Service (KFS), the meeting was held at Godka hotel in Chuka. In attendance was the County Minister of Environment, tourism and water resources, Hon. Albert Mugambi, the County Executive Officer ministry of Environment, Tourism and water resources Ms. Lucy Karimi, 4 chiefs from Tharaka Nithi and 2 from Chuka, Augustine Njoka Chairman of Njuri Ncheke council of elders, Personal Assistance to the Hon. MP TharakaNorth, from KFS Tharaka Nithi Mr. Joseph Wakiaga head of ecosystem services, Mr. Mwangi Gondo the zonal coordinator and Mr. Yatichi the enforcement officer, Mrs. Patricia Wambua NEMA director Tharaka Nithi county, Mr. Obadiah Munene deputy director Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Mwongeli KWS warden, and CPA representatives from Tharaka Nithi CPA. Five media houses namely standard newspaper, Radio Maisha, KBC, royal media and Meru FM aided in awareness creation during and after the leaders forum.

Ms. Jacqueline, Ms. Gladys Gatiba and Mr. Simiyu of Green Africa Foundation shared the project milestones and the baseline survey findings of Tharaka Nithi respectively. According Ms. Jacqueline and confirmation from Tharaka Nithi CPA, the organization had strengthened the Associations capacity to implement the charcoal rules and regulations through the simplified version availed to them. The association members meet more often than before to discuss how they can set up charcoal collection points in their various villages and the overall sustainability of charcoal production in the county. It was worth noting that the participants were astonished by the data presented on impacts of charcoal production in their area as presented by Mr. Simiyu. Ms. Gladys Gatiba presented on the impact of climate change that most of the chiefs identified with. The participants appreciated the various trainings carried out by the organization and requested for more especially to the leaders for intensive enforcement. 

Mr. Mwangi the KFS zonal coordinator Tharaka Nithi discussed the charcoal rules and regulations as provided in the Forest Act 2009. According to these discussions, enforcement has been carried out but is faced with numerous challenges; both the charcoal producers and the local administration have minimal knowledge about the laws. Positively, two chiefs acknowledged to have received charcoal rules and regulations booklet from Tharaka Nithi CPA members.  The participants discussed the visible climatic impacts in Tharaka Nithi, the reducing water levels in the rivers they attributed this to the rates of deforestation due to the rates of charcoal production.

By the close of the forum, the participants learnt the various ways that enhance sustainable charcoal production. This includes use of formation of CPGs under the Tharaka Nithi CPA umbrella, setting up of charcoal collection points, branding and other value addition measures, use of modern kilns to ensure at least 90% combustion and harvesting tree branches instead of whole tree. The county leaders through the local administration, KFS, office of the Member of Parliament and county Government through the Minister of Environment, Tourism and water resources in the various capacities were urged to spearhead tree planting initiatives to supplement CPA afforestation plans. All the participants were also urged to use energy saving Jiko e.g. Kenya Ceramic Jiko (KCJ) to considerably reduce their charcoal consumption and expenditure. The Minister of Environment, Tourism and Water Resources, Hon. Albert Mugambi called upon all the stakeholders to ensure they play their part in the conservation of the environment as everyone has a key role that is very important.  

In the end, the stakeholders formulated a way forward indicating each one of their roles.

 

ISSUE

ACTION

PERSON RESPONSIBLE

TIMELINE

1.

Formation of CPAs in Tharaka Nithi County/Sensitization on charcoal rules and regulations

Strengthen the existing CPA and formation of Igamba-ng’ombe/Magutuni CPA.

Government officials, CES, Green Africa Foundation and National Administration

By August 2014

2.

Protection of riparian vegetation

Pegging of rivers and Planting

 

Identification and mapping of wetlands for restoration

County government, NEMA, WARMA, WRUA, KFS, CDF, Ministry of Agriculture and National Admin.

Continuous

3.

Tree seedling production for  Reforestation

Establish tree nurseries in all sub-locations within affected areas

County government, KFS, CDF, Chiefs’ nurseries, scouts movement, CBOs

Continuous

4.

E.I/Audit

 

All CPAs, NEMA

Continuous (annually)

5.

Streamlining of charcoal industry in County Strategic plans

Formulation of relevant policies by the County government on charcoal production.

County government, KFS, NEMA, Agriculture, KWS

By December 2014

6.

Role of chiefs in sustainable charcoal production (enforcement)

Capacity building of the enforcement agencies and the communities

National administration, KWS, KFS, CBOs, county govt.

Continuous

                                                                                                

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