Within the lungs of Africa, an estimated 90 percent of the population use wood and wood-based charcoal for cooking.
Fuel wood in sub-Saharan Africa is consumed at 200% times the annual growth rates of the trees. This causes deforestation, lack of timber resources, and loss of habitat for the species living in it.
Deforestation could lead to famine for over 100 million Africans in the next ten to twenty years.
Traditional earth mound and earth pit kiln charcoal production in Africa (and throughout the world), is highly inefficient. The conversion rate is as low as 10% to 20% of wood burned being converted into charcoal. Even more advanced casamance and brickkilns are only recovering 30% of the wood.
Currently, thousands of small independent producers use environmentally destructive kilns throughout Burkina Faso and Sub-Sahara Africa to meet the needs of the rapidly growing urban centers. To meet the demand, they burn any wood available to them, regardless of the source.
A Burkinabe woman walks among saplings planted in what just ten years earlier had been a vibrant communal woodland. The village chief, Evomasy said he believed that the trees’ disappearance had caused the recent severe droughts. “We cut down everything,” he said, looking at the shrub land now surrounding his village. “We used to have trees all around us”.
Exposure to household air pollution from inefficient wood fires led to an estimated 4.3 million deaths worldwide in 2012, mostly all women and children.
While the switch to wood based charcoal tied to urbanization has helped to reduce these deaths, its use is unsustainable.
Thousands of women, children, and fathers are forced to evacuate for survival. Desertification is being experienced in many parts of Africa .