Why this Conference

Building Alliances to Curb Unsustainable Charcoal Trade, Production and Use in Somalia

Charcoal production in Somalia not only destroys the environment and contributes to loss of livelihoods and food insecurity, it also funds the elements and organisations behind conflicts. The production of charcoal continues to be on the rise ever since the start of civil war in Somalia.

The breakdown of state institutions in 1991, protracted conflict, weakening of traditional systems of decision-making, vague tenures or resource ownership, illegal imports of huge quantities of Somali charcoal by neighbouring countries of the region, absence of alternative sources of energy and limited livelihoods options for a large “warring & marginalised” population have led to unsustainable production, trade and use of charcoal.

The Charcoal trade today is vehemently recognised as a serious threat to the security and stability of Somalia as well as a major impediment to the peace process.

The charcoal industry has significant implications on livelihood security, exacerbating community conflicts and increasing vulnerability to drought & floods. The industry is a source of tension, particularly with clans who dominate the trade at the expense of others. It is also a major source of funding for militias. According to the UN Security Council Report 1 , available evidence suggests that approximately four million bags of charcoal are exported each year, making charcoal exports worth $120 million per year, with profits divided along the charcoal trade supply chain, including for Al’Shabab.

This rate of charcoal export means that approximately 8.2 million trees were cut down between 2011 and 2017 (SWALIM, PROSCAL Monitoring Report) i.e. one tree cut down every 30 seconds for the past 7 years.

Area’s most affected by charcoal production stretch from Jilib to the Somalia-Kenya border, with a focus around the ports of Kismaayo and Buur Gabo, where the charcoal is shipped off for export. To respond to the triple threat on environment, livelihood and conflict, the Somali government and the UN Security Council 2 committed to gain international support to curb unsustainable trade, production and use of charcoal. In pursuant of these commitments, UNDP, UN Environment and FAO is providing support to the Government of Somalia in implementing a comprehensive set of interventions to address the complex issues around charcoal. These interventions are part of the

Government and United Nations Joint Programme, titled, “Programme for Sustainable Charcoal Reduction and Alternative Livelihoods (PROSCAL) 3 ”. The International Conference is being organised under PROSCAL for an extensive discourse on issues related to Charcoal and to come up with alliances among key players in the broader development community to implement activities that will help in the gradual transition towards sustainable production and use of charcoal.