Chad, Moundou

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Chad, the heart of Africa

Chad is an african landlocked country, considered one of the poorest and underdeveloped countries in the world. It is a net oil and gas exporter, but most households suffer from severe energy shortage. Wood and charcoal are the only affordable sources of energy for more then 97% of the urban population in Chad, and for 100% of the rural population [1]. Cities are particularly vulnerable and affected by the lack of fuel alternatives economically viable.

According to the World Bank, in 2012, there were 12 450 000 inhabitants in Chad, and an annual population growth of 3%. To these numbers should be added more than 422 000 refugees (2013) coming from Sudan and Central African Republic [2]. About half of the nation’s population lives in the southern fifth of the territory, making this the most densely populated region in the country [3].

Desertification is one of the most serious environmental issues, and it increases apace every year, putting pressure on populations competing for scarce resources as well as inciting further conflict between groups. It severely affects Chad and is partially due to the indiscriminated logging activity for, among others, use as domestic fuel. Chad’s total forest cover dropped 12% from 1990 to 2010, an average of 79 250 ha or 0.60% per year, and currently land cover stands at 9%. In 20 years, Chad lost 1,6 million hectares of forest cover [4]. Deforestation is a critical matter: it drains ground water, erodes soils, and makes an arid country even drier. Desertification, the result of deforestation, is one of the greatest challenges facing Chadian people’s future. Deforestation is largely caused by the extreme poverty in which population lives. The south is particularly affected. Here vast areas of forest are cut to provide fuel for the ever growing cities. People are not ignorant to the environmental damage. They have no available or affordable culturaly adapted alternatives to fossil fuels.

Today wood charcoal is very difficult to come by after a government ban on its production, transportation, distribution and utilisation, in December 2008. The reasoning behind the ban is the problem of deforestation. But the hardships the ban has on day-to-day life is forcing many to turn to raw wood or continue using illegal wood charcoal to cook food. Raw wood burns less efficiently, requiring more wood to meet the needs, hence exacerbating deforestation [1].

Burning wood or wood charcoal produces smokes with a variety of irritant pollutants, some of which are known carcinogens. Respiratory infections are the leading cause of death of women and young children worldwide, leading to over two million deaths every year [5]. Children and women are especially affected because they spend considerable time around the cooking fires. Worldwide, there could be prevented a million deaths switching from wood and wood charcoal to agro-waste charcoal. It does not smoke, making it cleaner and improving the air quality around the cooking area [6]. Furthermore, many children and women spend many hours making long distances just to fetch wood, making themselves vulnerable to abduction and raping, and loosing valuable learning and leasure time in their lives.

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Women carrying wood

references
[1] envodev.org; [2] The UN Refugee Agency; [3] United States Agency for International Development (2005); [4] Food and Agriculture Organization; [5] World Health Organization; [6] D-Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

7.envodev

Envodev, for the past 5 years, established local contacts and partners on five rural communities around Moundou. These villages enthusiastically joined the project and each made available a group of people to participate on the production. These groups were trained and given the necessary tools to start a small scale production. They were trained in the pyrolysis method, the process to carbonize straw, and also in briquette production. Training and material expenses were covered by Envodev’s project fund.

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