Charcoal dealers urge Government to assist them in getting alternative income

Charcoal dealers in Narok town want the government to assist them start alternative businesses after banning the sale of charcoal and other forest products two months ago.

Over one hundred women whose livelihood depended on charcoal gathered at Narok Town Assistant County Commissioner (ACC)’s office where they lamented that since the ban, their families have suffered poor nutrition and children failed to sit for the end of term examination due to pending school fees.

Ms. Grace Partoip from Olopito area said she began the charcoal business back in 2010, and sustained her family through the little income she got from the enterprise.

Ms. Partoip said she used stocks from the bushes in her farm to make charcoal and at no time has she ever gone to the forest to destroy trees.

I have never gone to the forest to cut trees or burn charcoal. I got charcoal from the bush in my farm which I have been slowly cleared for farming. I am wondering my next move after the ban of charcoal business, she said.

Ms. Ann Sankok from Olpopong area pleaded with the government to help the women find alternative means of earning income, saying her form one girl was sent to collect school fees but was forced to remain at home as her family totally depended on charcoal.

I am a widow and the only sole bread winner of my family. I have five children who depend on me and my only means of earning income was from the sale of charcoal, to this end, I am pondering my next move, she lamented.

She said what was more worrying is the immediate ban imposed on them without a prior notice that would enable them save enough money to begin alternative businesses.

The women threatened to continue with the illegal business if the government doesn’t help them create alternative jobs.

The Narok Town Assistant County Commissioner (ACC), Ms. Zam Zam Adams sensitised the women on the need to conserve the forest and bushes saying failure to protect and plant more trees will lead to prolonged dry spell.

She advised the women to form groups to access government loans from Women fund, Uwezo fund, youth funds or the National Government Affirmative Action Fund (NGAAF).

The government did not ban charcoal business because it hates its people, it is because of the benefits that comes with trees and having bushes around. We want every woman to take advantage of the loans given to groups by the government so as to start small scale business like poultry, bee keeping and daily goat farming, she advised.

This comes at a time when the Narok governor, Samuel Tunai has commended the efforts of the security officers to reduce logging and charcoal burning in the forests in the area.

He said the numerous bags of charcoal that were being transported from Nyakweri, Mau and Emenengio forests has reduced drastically since operation to guard the forests almost two months ago.

Hundreds of charcoal bags that were being transported on a daily basis from the forests have now stopped. This is a major step in fighting against deforestation, he said.

Source: Kenya News Agency