SLM Charcoal project for improved livelihoods

What is the project about


Goal: Support the Sustainable Production of Charcoal

Charcoal has been utilized in Kenya for many years. However, the industry has faced up and downs with a ban to production and restrictions in use. The legislative and business environment has been extremely ambiguous with a lot of unprofessional practices creeping into the trade. Despite this situation, the charcoal business is estimated to contribute over Ksh 32 billion into the economy yet little is appreciated of this fact. This scenario has seen the poor of society being exploited to produce charcoal at very low prices while middle men, transporters and corrupt officials benefit from proceeds of the business. Kenya through KFS and the ministry of energy has made deliberate effort to streamline the charcoal industry as manifested in recently gazzeted charcoal rules. However, the challenge remains to provide appropriate technology that will not compromise sustainability efforts and principles of environmental integrity. Considering that charcoaling has been viewed as the poor man’s industry, it also remains a challenge to provide technology that is cheap and at the same time guaranteeing high or optimal recovery of the wood fuel. As one of the steps towards streamlining, this industry, KFS supported by UNDP is seeking to assess available technology especially within Kenya that have been in use and evaluate their efficiency, replicability and management with regard to requirements of the new charcoal rules. The study takes the form of desk work and field work. The study report also indicates some of the areas where the technology has been in use as a case study. These areas formed the basis for data collection and discussion on experiences with technologies. The future of the charcoal industry can be shaped based on past lessons learnt by various groups of technology users. 

Objective of the study

There is need to make charcoal industry blossom like any other and this is possible through regulation by the charcoal rules now in place. This in itself is big task. According to data available, Use of charcoal result into more jobs more than any other energy e.g. gas, electricity, kerosene. This therefore encourages us to invest in this industry where 94% of wood harvested goes into fuelwood use meaning 538,000 ha required for fuelwood.

There is wood fuel deficit in the entire country. The demand of charcoal is estimated will rise due to population Increase. 75% of all the charcoal utilized nationally comes from the drylands (fragile areas). So what can we do to ensure sustainable utilization of trees for various uses, Management plans, Natural regenerations Efficient kilns investing in Dryland forestry and utilization of efficient technologies will be the way forward. The greatest problem lies with the production and processing of charcoal. Marketing of charcoal, wood production, processing, transportation, marketing and utilization is not organized. Species choice for Commercial production is could be explored e.g, Accacia tortilis, gerrandii balanities aegyptica, mearnsii, casuarina etc.

Improved kilns; can be made accessible to the farmers that are together. Is it possible to have a mobile kiln. What kind of arrangements do we need to put in place, What about ownership of the kiln that belongs to a group. Transporters, can they be organized into a group. Pricing of charcoal, farm gate price 200 and market price 1000. Can we regulate? Can we eliminate corruption on the roads. Production from small scale farms, ranches, local authority forests, state forest. Production cost Ksh 159 per bag.

This study is aimed at contributing towards the recognition that the industry is worth streamlining by providing information and an assessment of available technologies for charcoal production.


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