Everyone agrees that indiscriminate tree felling is a bad idea, because it adds to the problem of desertification. But few are taking practical steps to slow the trend. And this could be due to the absence of cheap alternatives. But the Jigawa State Government is doing something about it. The government recently began the distribution of modified cooking stoves to local communities across its 27 local government areas. So far, more than 70,000 units of the stoves have been given out to households in rural communities.
The government hopes that the cooking stove project, co-ordinated by the state’s Ministry of Women Affairs, would curb incessant tree felling for the thriving firewood and charcoal business. Illegal tree felling is a challenge that is widespread in the Northern parts of the country.
Statistics indicate that per capita wood usage in Jigawa state exceeds one tonne per person per annum, representing a real threat that is not only peculiar to Jigawa but to other communities in the entire northern part of Nigeria. Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa State noted that the cooking stove project was in line with the Great Green Wall Project, an initiative meant to involve the planting of a 15km-wide transcontinental forest belt running from Dakar in Senegal to Djibouti, aimed at slowing the advance of the desert. Nigeria recently endorsed and adopted the project.
A large number of those who engage in tree felling sell the woods for domestic use. The improved cooking stoves being distributed by the Jigawa state government are meant to discourage reliance on firewood and thus reduce the quantity of the woods to be used by households at one cooking moment. This would in turn reduce the quantum of firewood needed to do domestic cooking. The modified stoves use wood, but in an efficient and environmentally friendly manner, and minimises waste.