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Gas replacing charcoal for cooking in Northeastern Somalia


Monday, July 04, 2016

(ERGO) - Cooking gas is becoming more popular in towns in Puntland, northeastern Somalia, and is reducing reliance on charcoal, according to environmental activists.

Amina Ali, an environmentalist, said their campaigns encouraging the use of gas as a more environmentally friendly fuel have led to more consumers opting for cooking gas in towns such as Garowe, Bosaso, Lasanod and Galkayo.

Many important indigenous trees that were being cut down in large quantities for charcoal burning are now returning to the area. 

“You can now find many young trees growing in the valleys that were very commonly used in charcoal burning. These include acacia tortilis, boscia mimosifolia and acacia bussei which are now spared and have begun growing in many areas,” she said.

Mohamed Jama Issa, manager of Punt-Gas Company, one of the largest gas cylinder suppliers, told Radio Ergo they received three or two new customers daily. The company sells more than 1,000 cylinders each month, double the amount a year ago.

To purchase a gas cylinder and connection appliances for the first time costs around $120. Refilling a 13 kg propane gas bottle costs $25 and lasts longer than three sacks of charcoal.

“Previously, people were afraid of using gas to cook. But we demonstrate how it works and show them the best way to cook with gas, so they handle it safely and avoid danger. Those who have learnt how to use it have stopped cooking with charcoal,” Mohamed said.

Charcoal traders, who are mostly women, are complaining of poor sales.  Hawo Khalif told Radio Ergo she currently sells around 100 bags of charcoal a month in Garowe market, which is down from 320 bags three years ago.

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Local people have organized themselves in many places to protest against cutting trees and charcoal making. Charcoal burners have consequently been forced to move to more remote places requiring vehicles to transport the charcoal to town.

This has resulted in higher prices and reduced profit margins for traders like Hawo. She said she has to pay $19 a sack to the charcoal burners, up from $12 two years ago.  She has incurred debts and is planning to leave the trade if she can.



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