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)
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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid