On a fuel-efficient cookstove visit we happened upon this lady with sacks of charcoal outside of her kitchen. Charcoal production, and the sale of it, is illegal in Malawi so we were surprised by the finding.
We stopped to chat with the householder – who was using her fuel-efficient cookstove – and she told us, “Someone came the other day with it and said they were leaving it here until they could arrange transport. It is a dangerous business so I didn’t refuse the request.”
Since the discovery, our Forest Conservation team have spoken with the village chief to find out what is happening. John, Forest Conservation Manager for Nkhata Bay District said, “We met the chief and found out that it is not local people burning the trees for charcoal but people from other areas of Malawi. The man in question came all the way from Mulanje – around 12 hours south of the country.”
The chief continued to explain that locals don’t chop down the trees and only gather deadwood to use in their fuel-efficient cookstoves. He also said that they didn’t have a Forest Conservation Committee so this is now being established so that they can stop people destroying the forests.
However, the demand for charcoal for cooking in urban areas is huge so we will look at what alternatives could be introduce instead.