News / Africa

Charcoal Ban in Somalia Impacts Struggling Local Economies

The stockpile of charcoal in Bur Gabo is estimated to be worth several millions dollars, Bur Gabo, Somalia, July 5, 2012. (Roopa Gogineni/VOA)
The stockpile of charcoal in Bur Gabo is estimated to be worth several millions dollars, Bur Gabo, Somalia, July 5, 2012. (Roopa Gogineni/VOA)
TEXT SIZE - +
Roopa Gogineni
BUR GABO, Somalia - A February United Nations resolution banned charcoal exports from Somalia, claiming the trade provides revenue to the al-Qaida-linked-al-Shabab militants and contributes to deforestation.  However in parts of the lower Juba region now under the control of the Kenyan military and Ras Kamboni militia, the embargo has depressed local economies and no alternative livelihoods have emerged. 

In Bur Gabo, Somalia, a city of charcoal sits by the sea, waiting for boats that have not come since October.

In February of this year, the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution banning the export of Somali charcoal. The resolution aimed to stifle one of al-Shabab’s main sources of revenue in addition to ending the environmental damage caused by charcoal production.

The Kenyan military and the Ras Kamboni Brigade took control of Bur Gabo from al-Shabab militants last October, at which point they began enforcing the embargo.

Ali Noor Kasim, an elder in the nearby town of Ras Kamboni, speaking through a translator, expressed his concern.

"Apart from the fishing it was one of the major livelihood options that has been there for quite sometime, and stopping it has created a lot of deterioration of the income people used to get," he said. "The consignment there will affect hugely the lives and the livelihood of the people."

Somalia has a long history of producing charcoal, most of which is sent to the Gulf States for use in shisha-pipes.  

Local traders told VOA that each sack of charcoal sells for $4 in Bur Gabo and approximately $15 in Dubai.  They estimate the consignment sitting in Bur Gabo is worth several millions of dollars. 

"During the al-Shabab era, charcoal business was booming, people getting livelihood there, there was no agencies coming and supporting the people," explained Ali Noor Kasim. "Now the charcoal has been stopped and agencies are coming and we are very hopeful international agencies will provide alternative livelihoods."
 
Despite nine months of stability, international agencies have yet to arrive in Bur Gabo.

Charcoal dealer Mohammad Abdullahi is worried about his unmoving stock. During the rainy season the bags containing the charcoal disintegrate and must be replaced.
 
"It is still there for almost a year,  there is more money lost because each and every time we are changing the sacks, no transportation to the Dubai side," said Abdullahi. "It is still there. This is the fifth loss we've getting, five times we've changed all the bags."

Experts believe the deforestation caused by charcoal production contributed to the drought and subsequent famine last year in Somalia.  

Many in Bur Gabo acknowledge the environmental consequences, but find they have no alternative source of income as Ali Noor Kasim explains.

"We are aware there is environmental degradation, we are aware of that, but most of the capital, but most of the business people's money is already invested in that," he said

Balancing environmental concerns with the economic future of the country continues to be a challenge in Somalia.

You May Like

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid