n Conflict Trends - Addressing charcoal production, environmental degradation and communal violence in Somalia : the use of solar cookers in Bander Beyla

Volume 2011, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1561-9818


Since 1990, Somalia has experienced statelessness, compounded with armed violence that has led to a high unemployment rate. But another kind of war is going on in Somalia - one that is being waged against the already fragile environment. This war involves the destruction of acacia trees to produce charcoal for the local and international market. Since the collapse of the Somali state, a large number of unemployed men have made their livelihood from charcoal production. In the absence of government environmental regulation and protection, acacia trees are cut and burnt on a large scale for charcoal, leading to the degradation of Somalia's natural resources. Due to poverty, unemployed young men as well as older men - desperate to survive and feed their families - are forced to engage in this business. Charcoal production as a livelihood has led to environmental destruction - and even death.

The first section of this article discusses the effects of charcoal production on the environment, its direct and indirect contributions to violence, and its overall effect on the health of women and girls in war-torn Somalia. The second part of this article discusses a solar cooker project implemented in 2005 in Bander Beyla by Horn Relief International and Sun Fire Cooking Ltd, to benefit 950 tsunami-affected families in the area. Given that charcoal production leads to environmental degradation and conflict as a result of competition for scarce resources - as well as affecting the health of those exposed to its use, and its high cost - the last part of this article assesses the impact of solar cookers as an alternative to using charcoal as cooking fuel.

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