Saturday, 13 February 2010

Zanzibar offers free gas to check deforestation

IN efforts to control deforestation and promote environmental conservation on the islands, authorities in Zanzibar have announced free gas to all Zanzibar households that would abandon using firewood as fuel and switch to utilization of gas for domestic use.

The Director of Department of Commercial Crops, Fruits, and forestry Dr Bakar Aseid, told a press conference here that there were enough funds to pay for the gas for household that declared not to use firewood and charcoal for home use.

“We appeal to all Zanzibaris to find alternative energy to save the environment,” he said.

Dr Aseid said that free gas would be available from April this year under the project aiming at conserving the forests or trees.

“Only people who accept to change will get free gas starter kit,” he said.

The director said that about 526,000 US dollars was already available for the four year project run by his department in collaboration with Oryx Gas Limited, and Salama Gas Limited of Zanzibar and supported by “members of the business community and development partners.”

“A household, which buys gas accessories package for a 38kg, 15kg or 6kg gas cylinders will be entitled to get starter gas equivalent to the purchased package. The cost of the package (including gas paid by the project) is about 303,000/=, 193,000/=, and 92,000/= respectively,” said Dr Aseid.

He said that although there was a drop in the use of forest products since 2000 due to increased awareness, it was still important for Zanzibaris to unite in conserving the environment to avoid future negative impact of the climate change.

According to the 2007 study on energy balance, he said, 95 per cent of Zanzibaris use bio fuels, 3 per cent use petroleum products, and only 2 per cent use electricity from the national grid.

“The scale of deforestation remains worrying! While in the eastern areas of Zanzibar people destroy forest for source of energy, in the West people are felling trees because of expanding construction,” the director said.

Putting more emphasis on the environment conservation, the minister of agriculture, livestock, and environment Mr Burhani Saadat Haji also said at the conference that Zanzibar would be at the risk of ‘great’ erosion in the near future due to lack of trees including mangroves, if the current cutting down of trees was unchecked.

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