The role of policy and institutions in greening the charcoal value chain in Zambia

By Mulako Kabisa, Brian P. Mulenga, Hambulo Ngoma, and Mercy Mupeta Kandulu

In Zambia, agricultural land expansion is responsible for 90 percent of forest cover loss, followed by settlement expansion and infrastructure development; its annual deforestation estimated between 167,000 and 300,000 hectares is among the highest worldwide. Charcoal is becoming an increasingly important driver of deforestation and forest degradation due to its increasing role as a cooking and space-heating energy source, predominantly among urban households. The erratic and limited supply of electricity in recent times, coupled with increased electricity tariffs, limited access, acceptability, and prohibitive costs of alternative energy sources has increased urban demand for charcoal a situation likely to continue in the foreseeable future. The heightened demand for charcoal, which will continue to increase, has far-reaching environmental consequences.

This study sought to find ways in which the charcoal value chain (CVC) can be made more sustainable in Zambia, with a view of reducing charcoal-induced deforestation and global warming. It meant to answer the questions of how charcoal production and trade is governed, lessons learned from constraints experienced in making charcoal production sustainable, and the opportunities for greening the charcoal value chain1. This was done through extensive review of relevant literature, both grey and published, the 2015 Living Conditions Monitoring Survey (LCMS) data, and key informant interviews (KII).

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