The figures are startling: Dar es Salaam consumes the equivalent of 16 olympic pools in charcoal every day. In monetary figures, production and consumption of charcoal is a $350 million business. In contrast, tea and coffee generate only $105 million annually to the national economy.

From a health perspective, using charcoal for fuel is preferable than using wood. The problem is that charcoal production using traditional methods is hugely inefficient and has a disproportionate impact on the environment when compared to woodfuel. What’s more, the wood used to make charcoal comes largely from the country’s nationally protected forests.

A video, produced by the World Bank last year (2010), lays out this issue in a way that is well-documented and visually compelling. The film explores the opportunity for moving Tanzania towards sustainable charcoal use.

The big picture of course is that what’s happening in Tanzania applies to other countries in sub-Saharan Africa. This is why the message in this video should resonate well beyond the country’s border.

<i>By Jean Kim Chaix of the Charcoal Project


View the video.</i>