Michael Tebere, the head of the secretariat says the bill also seeks to prohibit the cutting down of certain species of trees for charcoal production, establishment of local environment committees as well as charcoal producers associations. The others he says is the promotion of charcoal farming, energy security and reforestation of degraded areas.
Traditional Method of Charcoal Production Blamed For 70 Percent of Energy Loss in Uganda
The draft policy for regulation of activities in the charcoal industry in the Acholi sub-region is now ready for discussion.
The Joint Acholi Sub Regional Leaders' Forum – JSRLF comprising of the eight districts in the Acholi sub-region drafted the bill titled, ‘THE ACHOLI SUSTAINABLE CHARCOAL PRODUCTION AND MARKETING BILL, 2019'.
It consists of 11 parts, with others seeking to prohibit the use of destructive methods of charcoal production, unlicensed production of charcoal as well as taxing charcoal production and transportation from the Acholi sub-region.
Michael Tebere, the head of the secretariat says the bill also seeks to prohibit the cutting down of certain species of trees for charcoal production, establishment of local environment committees as well as charcoal producers' associations. The others he says is the promotion of charcoal farming, energy security and reforestation of degraded areas.
According to Tebere, the bill prescribes various offences related to production, transportation and marketing of Charcoal produce in the sub-region alongside their penalties. He says they expect the various district councils to adopt the bill as ordinances before it is taken to Parliament national consideration.
Acholi sub-region descended into a Charcoal production crisis in 2010 as displaced residents left camps for internally displaced persons for home. Several natural forest covers have been depleted as demands skyrocketed in Kampala and neighbouring Kenya where commercial Charcoal production has been abolished by government.
Arthur Owor, a researcher at the Centre of African Studies says the bill gives a lot of hope that the environmental injustices happening in the region could be prevented. He says the United Nations Development Program estimates that 1.8 percent forest land in Uganda is being lost annually.
Owor says the figure means 80,000 hectares of forests are cleared annually for charcoal and timber, up from 50,000 in 2004.
In Acholi sub-region, Gulu and Amuru District have lost half of their forest covers since 1990 with more than 5,000 bags of charcoal removed from one district every week.
Adam Branch, the Director Centre of African Studies in Cambridge University says government need to wake up and plan better for the country's energy demands as her population is projected to double by 2040. He says by this time, the biomass resources required to sustainably supply the annual energy demands is projected to rise from the current 44 Million tons to 135 Million tons.
Currently, 2014 National Census and Household Survey by Uganda National Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) indicate that the country's demand for energy is growing at five percent per annum. By 2040, Adam says the energy demand will reach its peak as only 26 million tons will be supplied according to the UBOS figure.
Charles Abola, an environmental consultant with InfoQuest says the Acholi sub-region is known to supply 40 percent of the biomass energy demand for the country. Unfortunately, Abola says the current methods being used in charcoal production in the region is capable of recovering only 30 percent of the wood feedstock.
According to Abola, the Acholi Sustainable Charcoal Production and Marketing Bill 2019 will introduce technologies for improved charcoal production that maximizes the recovery of Charcoal from the available woods. He says there are some technologies being tested already for efficiency in Agago district.
Charcoal production in Acholi sub-region takes the forms of household, small scale and industrial levels. At household level, in-situ roadside supply utilizes household labour to supply passengers while the small scale level operates at a medium, local trader scale using locally recruited labour. It involves the use of bicycle, boda-boda or pick-up transportation to supply local urban and semi-urban households and markets.