The basic source of fuel in Uganda is wood in the form of charcoal or firewood, which over 90% of the population relies on for heating and cooking. This dependence on traditional charcoal and firewood is responsible for the prevailing deforestation and soil degradation, the effects of which have manifested in irregular rainfall, floods and violent storms.
The major cause of this is a lack of affordable and reliable alternative sources of energy, and where alternatives do exist, such as kerosene and gas, the majority of people are too poor to afford them.
A new project, ‘Energy Alternative Sources’, to save the forest has been set up by the Uganda National Farmers Federation (UNFFE) that involves recycling agricultural waste to manufacture charcoal briquettes which are an affordable alternative to charcoal and firewood.
Through binding together agricultural waste in a kiln, a charcoal briquette is created that has a wide range of biomass, and provides an alternative to further deterioration of the forest. The charcoal briquettes have encouraged farmers to practice good environmental management, as well as getting women involved in the manufacturing process. The briquettes are cheap, readily accessible and offer a long-term sustainable solution to conservation agricultural practices, turning waste into energy.