NewsCAFI results : Protecting forests while providing sustainable alternatives to fuel wood

CAFI News picture 6 OCT 22

CAFI - An estimated two thirds of wood energy production in Central Africa comes from clearing of forests for the development of agriculture, while the remaining third comes from selective wood harvesting dedicated to the production of wood energy. The production of wood energy is therefore closely linked to agricultural activities as part of the rural complex. Generally speaking, the consumption of wood for heating by rural populations is a lesser issue than transformation into charcoal to supply large urban centres.   

Wood energy consumption profiles differ widely, however, between Central African countries, and even within each country. In Gabon, the production of wood energy does not represent a major driver of forest cover loss. By contrast, in the DRC or the Republic of Congo, population increase, the absence of alternative sources of energy, the low surfaces dedicated to plantations for wood-energy, the wide use of poor quality cookstoves in urban areas and weak carbonization yields all lead to forest degradation in areas supplying large urban centres. A study funded by CAFI and undertaken by the CIRAD via UNDP showed that in the Kinshasa megalopolis, 97.7% of inhabitants use charcoal regularly for cooking, with only 12% using an improved cookstove. 

In total, CAFI-funded programmes in the DRC have so far resulted in the plantation of 4,500 hectares of fast-growing trees for wood energy, and 16,500 hectares set aside for natural regeneration. Access to funding for clean cooking entrepreneurs has expanded, notably through the Challenge Fund established by the Wood Energy programme, with 1,2 million dollars US$ awarded to 12 Congolese entrepreneurs to produce and market 99,000 improved cooking solutions. Thanks to this as well as the integrated programme in the PIREDD Equateur, more than 63,000 improved cookstoves, 8,000 gas stoves and kits, 1,700 tons of gas and 998 tons of cooking briquettes available to the population. In addition to directly providing cleaner cooking solutions, the Challenge Fund has enabled the creation of more than 1000 jobs, with a female employment rate of approximately 53%. Moreover, household energy spending on fuelwood has dropped by 13% to 19% in targeted areas, demonstrating the potential of CAFI’s support. 

CAFI also contributed to a better understanding of production and consumption patterns - the resulting studies conducted by CIRAD are here, and 43 students and assistants from the University of Bukavu have been trained in doing research on the wood energy sector.   

At the policy level, the draft of the DRC’s new National Energy Policy has been validated, including a wood energy component. Multiple studies on the wood-energy sector have been completed, and 43 students and assistants from the University of Bukavu have been trained in doing research on this topic.  

These results have been obtained thanks to

  1. support the inclusion of a wood energy component in the National Energy Policy, in order to establish enabling conditions for more sustainable production and consumption of wood energy and the progressive deployment of alternative energies.
  2. launch a liquified petroleum gas (LPG) market, with a target of 250,000 households using LPG as their primary or secondary cooking source by 2024. This is expected to save 48,000 tons of charcoal per year.  In addition, the programme aims to help mobilize US $30 million to support the deployment of LPG by microfinance programmes.  
  3. produce and disseminate at least 50,000 improved cook stoves through a private sector approach, aiming for usage by 10 percent of households in Kinshasa and targeted provincial capitals.
  4. develop of micro-hydroelectricity and equip 4,000 households
  • Several of CAFI’s integrated rural development programmes (PIREDD) in the DRC, that include objectives pertaining to sustainable energy consumption. For example,
    • the PIREDD Mai-Ndombe supports the development of a strategy to regulate charcoal mining, and helps organize stakeholders into professional associations. The programme has already set aside close to 10,000 hectares of savannah for natural regeneration, and aims to triple this result by mid-2024; and planted 1,800 hectares of acacia trees in agroforestry, representing more than 90% of the objective for the first phase of the project.
    • In the PIREDD Equateur, 3,000 ha will be planted for sustainable production of wood energy on the outskirts of urban centres and around rural dwellings. In addition, more than 5,000 hectares of natural forest have been set aside to allow for regeneration, with another 2,000 hectares in the pipeline.
    • The PIREDD Maniema will improve energy efficiency in the use of wood energy though reforestation for charcoal needs, improved stoves, transformation of waste into charcoal etc.
    • The PIREDD Kwilu invests in the plantation of acacia trees for the production of sustainable fuel-wood.  

In the Republic of Congo, a programme to strengthen the potential for sustainable wood energy - PROREP was launched in August 2022, to ensure that sustainable alternatives to current wood energy practices are adopted. To achieve this, the programme sets out to establish 2,700 hectares of quick-start agroforestry plantations for sustainable wood energy supply of Brazzaville. As a result, the programme could reduce emissions from forests by 830,230 t CO2eq over the five-year project cycle, thus making an important contribution to climate change mitigation. 

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