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

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More