Sustainable Fuelwood Management (SFM) was launched in Nigeria in 2017. The project currently in the terminal year is being implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with support from the Federal Ministry of Environment, the Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN) and other stakeholders.
Mercy Etunghena Ozeh, the founder of Merci Renewables was one of those who participated in the five-year SFM Global Environment Facility (GEF) project.
In an exclusive chat with Science Nigeria at a multi-stakeholders’ interactive forum with SFM value-chain actors in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, she said the project had created a lot of opportunities for her.
“Before now I was a novice as far as clean cookstoves is concerned. I did not know the benefits. In fact, right now, in my own immediate environment over 50 people are using it, it is saving cost for them on the one hand and saving the environment on the other hand. We know things are hard so anything that helps in saving money is a very welcome development.
“I am into other businesses as a result of this; I sell charcoal, renewable energy products, kerosine, solar and other products. I am opportuned to go into all these because of this project. This project also reminds me of the dangers of global warming, climate change and I am able to know that I can help protect the environment with the sale of these stoves and that is the message I preach everywhere I go,” she said.
Similarly, a clean cookstove manufacturer, Binta Yahaya Idris, founder Fati Gold Services, who has trained over 30 people on how to make clean cookstoves and briquettes since participating in the project said she is now getting partnership offers from various organistaions even from the USA.
She averred that sustainable fuelwood management and the deployment of clean cookstoves keep the environment clean and save the forest from deforestation.
“Firewood is very scarce right now in Kaduna and the briquette which we make from waste materials are really helping. Using waste materials cleans up the environment which would have been littered by those materials and saves our trees which would have been cut down for firewood. Meanwhile with the efficient cookstoves you only need to cut the branches of the trees, which would sprout back, to use as firewood for cooking,” Idris added.
Commenting on the sustainability of the project, a micro-finance agent, Abdullahi Musa, described the project as self- sustaining as it revolves around everyday need.
“The whole project is about everything that has to do with household use. The difference is that we don’t eat them but they are as good as food, you must use them. So, just like the food market has its sustainability, it will equally play out here because people must eat. Eventually many will come to realise this can compliment gas because it is far cheaper in maintenance.
“The whole project itself needs funding both in terms of helping rural people access the stoves, helping manufacturers make better stoves, subsidizing the stoves to be affordable for everyone, and securing the woodlots. These are all the areas that need funds. So, we all have roles to play, societal and investors,” he stated.
Speaking exclusively to our correspondent, the Kaduna State UNDP-GEF SFM project focal person, Yahaya Saleh Ibrahim, said the project actually helped the state in creating more awareness amongst the youths and women in the rural areas, adding the state has been able to build an army of forestpreneurs who are at the vanguard of saving the state from desertification, being that the state has a border with desert prone states.
He added the lessons learnt and experience garnered from the project had helped the state build climate change initiatives into its state budget.
According to him, “With the experience and the intensity of our campaign this programme is now part and parcel of Kaduna State programme. It is now in the budget, so that even if UNDP-GEF programme is gone we have localized and internalized it into our budget system and our governance system and it is going to continue.”
In his remarks, the UNDP GEF SFM national project coordinator, Engr. Okon Ekpeyong, said the forum was to create opportunity for SFM value chain actors to showcase achievements, exchange experiences, share knowledge and ideas on innovation business and financing models toward sustainability of the gains of SFM project beyond its lifespan.
“This forum will focus on the role of community forest management committees (CFMCs) in the management of the established woodlots for sustainable fuelwood supply; production of quality and standardized energy-efficient woodstoves and establishment of sustainable cookstoves market groups with community based micro-credits to incentivize woodlot owners and end-users of cookstoves,” he added.
Ekpeyong said the interaction was intended to catalyse enhanced cooperation and partnerships among fuelwood value-chain actors for sustainability.
Earlier, the team head of the environment and climate change (ECC) unit of the UNDP Nigeria, Mr Muyiwa Odele, said the project had been able to put policies at both federal and state levels that could help government, if implemented to tap into the opportunity of stimulating business among small business enterprises (SMEs), microfinance banks, adding a very sustainable business model had evolved from it.
“We worked with some SMEs, we helped them to develop some financial products that are specifically targeted at helping entrepreneurs who are interested.
“The project was implemented in three states, it has its successes, challenges and lessons learnt, and the beauty of UNDP-GEF project is that capturing those successes and lessons learnt are more important also for forming future actions, developing new projects and policy.
“So, this is a form of stock-taking as well as testimony sharing and networking. So, it is more like a legacy meeting to consolidate lessons learnt and an opportunity to also share with the global community,” he added.