Somalia Tackles Environmental Degradation

Somalia said Thursday it is tackling environmental degradation which is closely linked to desertification, drought and unsustainable livestock and agricultural practice.

Hussein Sheikh Hussein, minister of livestock, forestry and range said that the government is committed to eradicating deforestation by availing alternative options to communities.

"We are in the process of offering communities alternative livelihoods for livestock production and alternative energy for cooking," Hussein told a forum on unsustainable production and illegal export of charcoal in Somalia organized by the UN Environment.

He noted that over-exploitation of forest and rangeland resources causes frequent drought and floods that affect communities and create a chronic humanitarian crisis in the country.

The minister said that unsustainable production use and illegal export of charcoal remain the main cause behind deforestation and land degradation in the country.

He attributed the situation to weakening of traditional systems of decision-making on access to resources, absence of alternative sources of energy and limited livelihoods options have led to unsustainable production and trade of charcoal.

"We are making progress following charcoal trade ban by the UN Security Council in 2012, and we continue to work in partnerships in stopping the trade and providing alternatives to charcoal," he added.

Hussein said the joint Program for Sustainable Charcoal Reduction and Alternative Livelihoods is providing an integrated approach to address the issues.

The program that is a partnership between the government, United Nations Development Programme, UN Environment and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is focusing on priority actions in the areas of policy support, capacity development, advocacy and providing alternative energy and livelihood options to charcoal use and production in the country.

Hussein said the government has intensified efforts to stop the illegal trade.

"The annual wholesale value of Somali charcoal ending in Middle East markets is estimated at 150 million U.S. dollars," he added.

The minister noted that the government, in a survey found that about 8.2 million trees were cut down to make charcoal between 2011 and 2017 alone.

"It is this destruction of trees for charcoal that leads to degradation of land, destruction of the ecosystems and as a result causes greater susceptibility to flood and drought," he added.

Hussein noted that the livestock sector that gives the country 70 per cent of export earnings is most affected.

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