A motorcyclist commonly referred to as 'Boda Boda' in Kenya ferries sacks of charcoal along the Nakuru -Nairobi highway, Nakuru, Kenya, Sept. 16, 2015. Some Kenyan families still use charcoal as the main source of energy consumption due to the high cost of fuel and gas. (Xinhua/Simbi Kusimba)

Harmonized regulations are required to control charcoal production and trade in the East African region, says a Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime (GITOC) report that was released in Nairobi Tuesday.

The study, conducted between February and November 2020, says that lack of harmonized regulations in the region is jeopardizing environmental protection efforts that are already doing badly due to adverse climate changes.

“Charcoal production can only be managed through a regional harmonized regulation and not individual country regulations,” said Michael McLaggan, analyst at GITOC, during the virtual launch of the report. McLaggan said that failure to enforce existing regulations and to design better enforcement regimes are a threat to sustainable development.

He urged governments of Kenya, Uganda and South Sudan to put in place measures to improve governance and regulation at all levels.

“Regulatory blind spots lead to environmental degradation, as trees are unsustainably harvested and public health costs increase due to indoor pollution,” McLaggan said.

John Chumo, secretary of Kenyan National Environmental Complaints Committee, said that legalization of charcoal trade will end illegal production and trade in the commodity that is rampant in the region.

Kenya banned charcoal production from the national gazetted forests and is currently in the advanced stage of developing legal mechanisms aimed at taming illegal and unplanned charcoal production and trade.

In Uganda, the report says that several districts have passed by-laws which aim to halt charcoal production. In South Sudan, a ministerial decree banned the export of charcoal in 2015 but charcoal trade has continued to thrive.

According to the report, other countries in the region have also sporadically instituted bans following outcry from communities in rural areas against rapid rates of forest degradation linked to charcoal production.

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