Rural Senegalese families rely on charcoal as a source of fuel which has resulted to deterioration of the forest ecosystem in the country.
In Senegal’s Kaffrine region, charcoal production is predominantly male activity, but World Bank’s Sustainable and Participatory Energy Management Project (PROGEDE I & II) has contributed positively to reforming the business.
Building on the successful PROGEDE-1, PROGEDE-2 is community-focused and designed to preserve the overall forest ecosystems that many poor rural Senegalese families rely on.
World Bank has brought in women into charcoal production, an activity that has not only helped break down gender stereotypes but also contributed to boosting villages incomes.
“Involving women in the decision-making process is transforming charcoal production into a sustainable activity and contributing to restoring precious forest resources,” World Bank said.
Awa Seck, PROGEDE II Project Manager and Senior Energy Economist at the World Bank office in Senegal noted that by including women earlier in the value chain, “Kaffrine has been able to reduce the negative impacts of charcoal production on the environment through reforestation activities performed by women. Women are also having more of a say in the development of other income generating activities such a horticulture and beekeeping that can relieve the strain on forest resources.”
By having women sit alongside men to negotiate on key initiatives towards the sustainability of their energy and financial resources has transformed the villages in Keffrine.
Through PROGEDE II, women are now part of the inter-village forest management committees (CIVGFs) which make decisions that govern reforestation, zoning for charcoal production, carbonization techniques, charcoal sales, and charcoal use.
Reforestation activities have also provided a new source of employment for men and women alike. They are involved in running tree nurseries, surveillance of protected forest zones, and replanting activities.
After gender awareness and training by World Bank, women make up 33 to 50% of the elected positions in the CIVGFs.
Reforestation is good, alternative source of energy is even better
The rate at which forests were diminishing in Senegal called for a quick strategy to salvage the environment that was also succumbing to climate change due to deforestation.
PROGEDE II introduced alternative approaches to sustainable energy management which included introducing horticulture farming, and bee keeping. Women have also been instrumental in developing these alternative income generating activities funded by the World Bank and the Nordic Development Fund and supported by the ESMAP’s AFREA Gender and Energy Program.
Villagers have now developed small gardens behind their residences to produce vegetables for their households while the surplus is sold, further generating more income for the families.
Moreover, the project has enabled the ‘new’ farmers access water which they use for irrigation in their own gardens and the communal ones. Community members are given small loans to have water installed and repay as they get produce output.
There are currently 67 private gardens being run in this communal manner, 33 of which are run by women.
Over a period of one year since the project was rolled out, horticulture has generated revenues totaling 10 million CFA ($20,000 dollars, which has encouraged many more members to adopt the lucrative idea. Irrigation farming allows the villagers to be productive all year round.
Now, members are seeking to extend their farming venture into a large communal vegetable garden (6 hectares) where each family has a plot, thus centralizing irrigation and making the gardens easier to protect. They are further seeking support from PROGEDE II to acquire a pump as well as fence the farm.
“The development objective of the Second Phase of the Sustainable and Participatory Energy Management Project for Senegal is to contribute to increase the availability of diversified household fuels in a sustainable and gender equitable way, and to contribute to increase the income of participating communities while preserving the forest ecosystems,” Part of project report reads.
Image Credit: World Bank/Sengal Project