Cabdalla Cali Yuusuf 30 June, 2016 BOORAMA
Pastoralists in Awdal are continuing to devastate the land they rely on for grazing their livestock by cutting down trees for making charcoal, despite the hardships of the recent drought.
Radio Ergo’s local reporter discovered that many Somali pastoralists were supplementing their income through the sale of charcoal.
Roble Omar Muude, one local herdsman, uses his camels to transport the charcoal he makes in the eastern outskirts of Borama to the market.
He said the charcoal business covered his own personal expenses, rather than helping his family.
“Khat is the main reason why I cut the trees, I also need some money to buy new clothes,” he said. “My family is pastoralist and they do not need to burn wood [to get money].”
It takes six days to make six sacks of charcoal. He makes enough to load up his male camels with six sacks each before setting off for the market, where one sack sells for around $5.
“The traders in the market are encouraging us to cut the trees and produce the charcoal. They give us orders in advance and they compete with each other to buy our charcoal,” Roble said.
Roble, 32, owns 400 goats and 15 camels. In times of drought, local pastoralists are forced to travel up to 280 km with their animals looking for pasture. The charcoal burners realise their activities have exacerbated the drought but they do not stop.
Abdi Barkhad, 40, who has 300 goats and 20 camels, told Radio Ergo that he and others cut for charcoal the specific trees the animals eat in dry times.
“We burn both green and dry acacia trees,” he said.
Barkhad admitted that pastoralists had tried to agree on ways of stopping charcoal burning because they realised it impacted negatively on the environment and was destroying their traditional livelihood.
“We have met and agreed many times to stop the destruction of the forest with our own hands, but some of us don’t keep our word and go back to the charcoal business and so the burning continues,” he said.
Environmentalists like Suleiman Hassan Hadi are very concerned about the damage being done.
“There will be no grass if the trees all disappear. This means the animals will not survive. This in turn will force the nomadic people to move to towns, but as they have no skills to take up jobs some of them will make the streets their home and this will damage the beauty and environment of the towns,” he said.
Environmentalists are calling for tougher laws to deter deforestation.