Charcoal Makers

Charcoal Makers and environmental concerns

A Project Site in Tanzania was occupied by swathes of migratory workers making charcoal for the Tanzanian market. Charcoal is the preferred cooking fuel of most Subsaharan countries. In Tanzania 85% of households use charcoal to produce their daily meals. It is easier to transport and store than firewood. But charcoal has a considerable impact on the environment, mainly through deforestation. High demand and pressure from population growth makes the production reach further and further into remote areas.

Charcoal Maker in front of his kiln

In 2006 the government of Tanzania deemed the production of charcoal illegal in forest designated areas. This covers only a small portion of the country and even then the law is poorly enforced due to structural problems and neglect on part of the lawmakers.

Thus, charcoal is in most areas not necessarily illegal, but also not welcomed. Similar to the case of the pastoralists, the Government of Tanzania, leading on this particular Resettlement Action Plan, did not recognize the charcoal makers as a group eligible for compensation.

IDC developed innovative approaches to address the challenges and attempted to save the biodiversity areas within the Project Site.

IDC started with the voluntary  registration of all charcoal producers active in the area at the time of the census with the purpose of allowing them to stay and continue their livelihoods for the time being. All registered charcoal producers were assessed with regards to education and skills and a list was forwarded to the company for potential employees when the Project starts. The prospect of job opportunities safeguarded the co-operation of all charcoal producers.

In formal meetings held with all charcoal producers IDC obtained an agreement to demarcate the biodiversity zone and the promise, that no one would trespass to cut down tress. A peer monitoring process was established to ensure compliance.

Other interventions included:

  • Basic literacy, numeracy and entrepreneurial skills training provided twice a week;
  • Basic bio-diversity training to create awareness of endangered tree species;
  • Interested participants could be recruited for environmental protection jobs;
  • Assistance to form co-operatives;
  • Solar power training for lights and mobile phone chargers in the bush;
  • Health screening for TB, filariasis and optional HIV/AIDS testing
  • Treatment for those testing positive
  • Early jobs availability for land clearance + PPE and health and safety training
  • 10% eligible for skills training at a local college
A charcoal maker returns from collecting wood