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Solutions for a sustainable fuelwood energy sector in Madagascar

Fuelwood is the main source of energy for cooking in Madagascar, and in the Atsimo Andrefana and Menabe regions for example, almost 100% of fuelwood demand is extracted from natural forests.

On a national scale, the volume of fuelwood consumed in Madagascar is 18 million m3 in 2015, including 10 million m3 for firewood and 8 million m3 for charcoal. This consumption is twice higher compared to the sustainable production potential of Malagasy forests, estimated at 9 million m3 in 2015 (SNABE, 2018).

For charcoal alone, the consumption of the Atsimo Andrefana region is estimated at 34,000 tons in 2016 and that of the Menabe region at 27,000 tons, representing an area of 28,000 ha of natural forests decimated each year. Households in towns and cities account for 2/3 of this consumption. So what are the solutions?

There are regulations for the fuelwood sector, including compliance with charcoal production techniques to ensure sustainable production. Similarly, there are energy-saving cooking equipment (fatana mitsitsy) or burning briquettes to reduce charcoal consumption. And in order to ensure the supply, reforestation for fuelwood is also developed. The fuelwood sector thus represents an entire value chain, from small producers to consumers.

Several supports focus on promoting the adoption of energy-efficient cooking equipment such as the "fatana mitsitsy", a solution that contributes to reduce deforestation because it allows households to consume up to half as less charcoal.  To popularize its use and make it accessible to household budgets, WWF has supported community producers of improved cookstoves. Specifically in Tulear (Ankoronga), Betioky (Mahafaly Plateau), Ranomay and Ambiky, (Amoron'Onilahy protected area), producers of "fatana mitsitsy" are supported with materials to become entrepreneurial artisans and to ensure their production capacity. Then, in collaboration with partners, they were trained on financial management and investment and savings opportunities (microfinance). In Belo sur Tsiribihina, since 2012, WWF has trained and accompanied Luther Mahonjo, an improved cookstove producer; he has made it his profession and is now a consultant and has just received the opportunity to popularize his improved stoves in 24 rural communes in the Melaky and Menabe regions.

Fatana mitsitsy produced by local communities - © WWF Madagascar

In addition, regulatory systems have been operationalized in the southwest to integrate communities into the sustainable fuelwood sector. Mbola Zafinisiry, a charcoal maker on the Mahafaly plateau in Tanambao Sakondry on the RN10, explains: "the first step was to approach the State to let them know that we wanted to produce and sell charcoal. We then had to demarcate plots of forests for charcoal production from other parts that we were committed to conserve for the production of seedlings. Finally, we received a cutting permit and built a regulatory charcoal depot or sales point.  We pay 600 Ariary per bag to the forest administration to conserve the forests and reforest; we greatly prefer to follow the laws instead of illegally selling charcoal and risking our business".