Mohamed Abchir: Statement at the inception workshop on sustainable use of biomass

01 May 2013

I understand that the objective of this workshop is to elicit information leading to the development of a project document of action to address the adverse effects of climate change in Sierra Leone and curb deforestation thereby increasing public private partnership. The 2.6 billion poorest people in the world suffer the most from climate change and are least responsible for the problems. UNDP's mission is to empower lives and create resilience nations; this is why we work on climate change. This is of special interest to UNDP as the one of our organisation’s goal is to promote the conditions for lasting peace, human security and social-economic development. Lest we forget that when the development planners of pay little attention or ignore the link between climate change and the development initiatives undertaken, they are doing an injustice to the populace that put their trust in them in their hope to escape the impacts of climate crises. In this context, you may wish to note that UNDP has been collaborating with the Government of Sierra Leone and other stakeholders; sharing its sustainable development expertise and provide assistance to the government in addressing climate change in ways that are compatible with its own particular domestic development and poverty reduction agendas.UNDP has been spearheading Access to Energy in Sierra Leone and in April 2010, UNDP facilitate the Launching of the Sierra Leone Energy Policy and Strategic Plan and has helped the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources to print more of the Policy and Plan for wider distribution. UNDP has also been a key player in the ‘SIERRA LEONE’s FIRST RENEWABLE ENERGY FORUM’ launch in April 2010. 

Energy poverty and its relationship to deforestation and increasing exposure of people to disasters in Sierra Leone is one of the most pressing challenges to achieve a sustainable development vision. In Sierra Leone, less than 1% of the rural population has access to electricity and about 90% of the population depends mainly on wood-fuel for cooking and kerosene for lighting, which have negative consequences to the environment and to the quality of life, especially of the rural poor, a situation that significantly compromises countries’ prospects for social and economic development. And yet activities and development in the sector have been have not be definitely structured; thus, have not been able to meet the requirements of the various demand sub-sectors

The current low access to energy services, especially in rural areas, leads to detrimental socio-economic impacts on populations; especially women and young girls and on the sustainable management of biomass and other natural resources and ultimately on climate change, for instance 

-       The dependence on the gathering of traditional fuels exposes women and children to acute morbidity and mortality risks (through indoor air pollution).

-       The lack of versatility of traditional fuels and the resulting limitations for productive end uses reduces the effectiveness of social economic activities and the efficiency of economic production for households.

-       The unsustainable use of traditional fuels (wood and charcoal) contributes, inter alia, to increasing the rate of deforestation.

At present, UNDP has secured funding from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to implement the “Energy Efficient Production and Utilization of Charcoal through Innovative Technologies and Private Sector Involvement” project.The project seeks to complement the Energy Strategic Plan through strengthening institutional capacity on biomass resource utilization at all levels as well as increased number of investments on improved, more efficient charcoal and Improved Cook Stoves (ICS) production in Sierra Leone. The project aims to: (i) Create an enabling environment for the production and use of sustainable, energy efficient kilns and improved cook stoves; (ii) Support a first large scale deployment of these technologies; and (iii) Ensure that the subsequent national transformational diffusion of these technologies will be ensured by setting up sustainable financial mechanisms and tools for investment.With the immediate support; the project will strive to improve energy efficient production and utilization of Charcoal through Innovative Technologies and Private Sector Involvement through institutional strengthening and increased investment with a view to ensuring the effective policy and regulatory frameworks on the use of more efficiently produced charcoal and improved cook stoves in Sierra Leone.

 

  With the implementation of projects, there is a set package that helps in the identification of activities outlined in the proposal through participatory methodology. The help of proper consultations with other stakeholders working on similar initiatives, a package of interventions to address climate change mitigation and reduce our green house gas emission including policy, regulatory and institutional reforms, capacity building, and investments can be sourced and aligned into our interventions. These interventions must be consistent with national action programs focusing on the effective management of our forests

       Therefore, Government has to invest in energy and more so invest in actions that are geared specifically to reduce our emission and increase national resilience to climate change. There is the strong need for partnerships and co-ordination with strong vertical and horizontal linkages and partnerships. Communities should cme on board as this project hopes to responds to local problems and needs, capitalises on local knowledge and expertise, empowers and local people and organisations.

    In conclusion, let me wish you a very stimulating deliberations; knowing fully well that you can draw a result oriented activity plan which will result in strengthening Sierra Leone’s national institutional and human resource capacity to ensure access to energy. We must not look at the past efforts, but review the new and upcoming strategies within which this group’s recommendations can be effectively implemented right down to its logical conclusion.

I thank you for your attention.