Preventing Deforestation: Understanding Timber and Fuelwood Markets in Sierra Leone

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1 September 2011 Promoting the use of Solar Electricity Across West Africa Preventing Deforestation: Understanding Timber and Fuelwood Markets in Sierra Leone In addition to its other activities, EFO is currently engaged in a major research project designed to improve understanding of (wood-based) commercial forest products around the country. Funded by the European Union as part of the ACP- FLEGT initiative, the project is focused on fuel (firewood and charcoal) and timber (boards and poles) tracing them from urban storage and sales points to their rural source areas. As the central aim is to gain nuanced understandings of the material, economic and political realities of this trade and for the various people involved in it, the methodology is focused on extensive and often in-depth individual and focus group interviews and a great deal of participant observation. The project is designed to cover the country in two consecutive 6 month phases, the first involving the Northern Province and the Freetown area, the second focusing on the Southern and Eastern provinces. The fieldwork team is currently coordinated by head researcher Greg Hiemstra-van der Horst, a doctoral candidate from the University of Melbourne, Australia, who is presently engaged in thesis research on forest governance and management in Sierra Leone. Greg Hiemstra-van der Horst, head researcher training researchers how to use GPS for the project, 14-Apr-2011 headquarter towns across the South and East of the country. This allowed the team to field-test and fine-tune their methodology and skills, but also provided important contextual information for both data analysis under the first phase and the planning of second phase activities. At present the team has just finished up work in Koinadugu district including a special focus on the Wara Wara mountains area to support Promoting Agriculture Governance and the Environment (PAGE) who is working on co-management of forest resources there and is preparing for Bombali and Tonkalili districts. The team itself is comprised of 6 Sierra Leoneans, a mix of Njala University graduates and seasoned field researchers with experience from such projects as the World Bank studies of Loma Mountain and the recent chimpanzee survey conducted by the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary. Having commenced in April, the project is currently in the middle of the first phase. Following preparations in April, including selection and training of the research team, in May fieldwork began in earnest. The first component of this, lasting for much of the month, was a Rapid National Assessment involving an interview-based census of all vendors in District Researchers interview commercial board vendors

2 2 EFO Newsletter Kamabai Senior Secondary School powered up by EFO in May 2011 Kamabai Senior Secondary School - Bombali District In April 2011, Kamabai Secondary School s installation was completed making it fully functional again for the first time since the school s electrical infrastructure was seriously degraded during years of civil war. Kamabai is one of only three regional test centres for both the BECE and WASCE examinations, the standardised tests used in the Sierra Leone education system. The installation was driven by community contribution both financially, from revenue generated from the community charging station installed in March and through community participation in the installation - digging trenches and the earthing pit and assisting to lift the panels up onto the roof. The installation provides study light for the school s evening classes as well as providing light for extra study time in the evenings. The installation now lights up 11 rooms, the lab, a chapel, a community library, outdoor security light and there is provision for computers in the classes and in the library. With the availability of electricity, the staff and students are optimistic that access to computers is now possible and if they can get the funding this may soon become a reality. Up to 200 students from the surrounding area are expected to come and study every night in the lead up to the BECE exams and the WASCE exams. Staff and students expect the lights will improve performance in the senior secondary and university entrance exams as students will be able to safely study in the school at night, where they have access to text books and can benefit from many extra hours of study. This will benefit at least the 950 students that attend the school and is expected to benefit a lot more students during the lead up to exams. As well as promoting educational improvements the solar system also benefits the school by increasing general safety and security around the school grounds and it replaces the school s reliance on petrol fuelled generators which are costly, noisy and unreliable. The savings that will be made by converting to renewable energy will now be invested back into the school. Idrissa fixing the panels onto the roof at Kamabai Senior Secondary School The system has been an exciting development for the students as the majority do not have electricity in their homes. When we come to school and the weather and big storms are all dark we can go into the hall and continue our work

3 3 EFO Newsletter Solar Installed in Gbendembu Baptist Secondary School, and Solar Training Course completed in Gbendembu, Bombali District, Northern Sierra Leone EFO facilitated a training course that was led by a partner in the AusAID proposal, Deng Solar Training Company. This Ghana based organization was represented by Nicolas Opoku Kwarteng, who provided a training course in basic solar installation and maintenance at Gbendembu. James B. Conteh (JBC) and Monica Gbassay (Beshay) came from Kamabai Solar Charging Station to attend the training. Trainees help Jalloh and Sheka with the installation at Gbendembu Senior Secondary School - May 2011 The installation at Gbendembu Secondary School in May 2011, was a great team effort from start to finish. It combined funding from AusAID, product donations from BP Solar and Outback, donations through Friends of GSS, a significant community contribution, contributions from other EFO project work and valuable labour from students and volunteers from Kamabai and Kamakwie as well as EFO staff. Gbendembu Senior Secondary School is one of three Senior Secondary Schools in the Bombali district outside of Makeni. It is also one of three centres for the BECE and WASCE exams and since the installation, at exam time, around 300 students per day come to use the facilities and study at night. Jalloh and Sheka Massaquoi led the practical installation of the system which provides lighting and supplies power for; light appliances such as fans for the secondary school and its staff quarters, a computer lab and a charging station. The charging station will provide the necessary income for maintenance of the systems and upgrades if needed. JBC also spent a week with the staff of the school teaching them in management of the charging station that has been incorporated into this school s system. Other participants in the solar training course were teachers and students of Gbendembu Baptist Secondary School, a representative from the Wesleyan Health Centre, and representatives from Kamakwie Community Centre, from Kamakwie Secondary School and from Kamakwie Hospital. The solar students helped to install the system as part of their practical training and in this way their theoretical knowledge was reinforced by direct practical experience. Trainees learn about the effects of shading a panel EFO made a follow-up visit to Gbendembu Senior Secondary School in August and staff were pleased to see that the charging station is running successfully. Momoh Kargbo and Osman I. Kamara were present at the site, keeping a watchful eye over the phones and lights at the charging station. Osman showed us the rows of already charged phones neatly placed on the shelves provided. He said the charging station is popular and is bringing in good revenue for the school and he himself was pleased to have a good holiday job to help finance his school fees next year. Momoh Kargbo and Osman Kamara, students at Gbendembu Secondary School, are employed by the school to run the charging station during the holidays As this is a new project, we hope to hear more positive stories about the impacts of the new solar system in the year ahead.

4 4 EFO Newsletter Solar Installed in Gbendembu Health Centre Kamabai Health Centre goes solar Gbendembu Health Centre from the back with panels on the roof At the end of May 2011, Jalloh, Programme Manager at EFO, installed 2x230 Watt panels at Gbendembu Health Clinic, and supplied them with a Uday light. Uday lights are portable lights with a long electrical cable connecting the light to a solar panel that can be placed outside during the day. The light can then be used in different locations as needed during the night hours. The solar system powers three wards, a laboratory, inspection rooms, a labour room, a consultation room and two staff quarters. Before the solar was installed the Health Centre relied on a generator but they did not have sufficient funding to fuel it consistently. Three days before the installation one woman was admitted in an emergency, to give birth. They didn t have any source of light so had to use paper to make a fire to provide light for the birth. The solar system will significantly reduce the risks associated with lack of light during night time hours for critical medical situations such as this one. The Head of the Centre and two nurses show EFO staff the lit hall way, wards and control room Mr. Francis Sesay, Community Health Officer, conducts a Malaria test on a patient at the Kamabai Health Centre Kamabai Health Centre is the latest addition to the solar grid in Kamabai and lies within easy reach of the charging station and the school. The clinic serves an average of 300 patients a month in the rain season and up to 500 a month in the dry season. Its catchment is a population of 5000 people (Kamabai and its surrounds). Before June 2011, when the installation took place, the health centre was dependent on a generator which more often than not they could not afford to run. This led to a strenuous operating environment at night and meant that medical emergencies had to be treated in a dimly lit environment. Mohamed and Alusine completed the installation of 2x230 Watt panels in June 2011, that will light up four wards and a laboratory twenty four hours a day. Francis Sesay, Community Health Officer, is optimistic about the new solar system and says that it is a much needed improvement to the Centre that will benefit the wider population. Kamabai Health Centre from the outside

5 5 EFO Newsletter Supporting Alternative Livelihoods along the Western Area Peninsula for Conservation EFO is happy to have supported the Conservation of the Western Area Peninsula Forest Reserve Project (WAPFoR) through installations in various sites along the Western Area Peninsula as part of a drive to promote alternative livelihoods. Welthungerhilfe (WHH) funded these installations as part of the above WAPFoR project, supporting alternative livelihoods around the Western Area Peninsula Forest Reserve. This is designed to help conserve the forest and prevent encroachment by the surrounding communities for fuel wood, farming etc. In May 2011, installations were completed at River No.2, a community-led ecotourism resort, the Sierra Leone Artisanal Fisherman s Union (SLAFU) and WHH offices in Tombo and the WHH office in Freetown. EFO technicians, Sheka and Idrissa with Musa the cook at River No. 2 and a colleague from the River No. 2 Community In May 2011, EFO installed 8x175 Watt solar panels to electrify the community run tourist attraction of River No. 2, an off-grid coastal community on the Western Area Peninsula, near to Freetown. The solar installation provides lighting and will power a freezer and some light appliances in the store area, kitchen, restaurant and 14 rooms providing accommodation to tourists. EFO is delighted to provide River No. 2 with solar power as it will facilitate smooth running of the facility as well as boosting the community s efforts to attract tourists by reinforcing their image as an eco-tourism attraction. An expert on sustainable tourism, Mr. Robert Travers, recently completed a study on Sierra Leone s tourism sector and concluded that, due to its natural and unspoilt beauty, Sierra Leone should prioritise eco-tourism and brand itself as the centre of eco-tourism in West Africa. The solar installation looks fantastic, placed in the centre of the facility for all arrivals to see, and will definitely promote River No. 2 firmly to the status of community run eco-tourism resort which in turn, we hope, will attract more tourists. TOP: The Artisinal Fisherman s Union, Welthungerhilfe and Tombo Community Development Offices. BOTTOM: Idrissa and Sheka busy during the installation The Sierra Leone Artisanal Fisherman s Union, Welthungerhilfe (WHH) and the Tombo Development Community Offices were provided with a state of the art system in May The 2x175 Watt panels provide lights and sockets for computer use in the SLAFU and WHH offices, while it provides lights for the Tombo Development Community office. The project is designed to promote and support community development activities with a specific concentration on environmental protection. It being the main development office in Tombo, it is hoped that it will have a positive impact on the whole community through outreach. The Restaurant at River No. 2 overlooking the beach, is now solar powered

6 6 EFO Newsletter Solar Irrigation System Installed in Kamaso - Koinadugu District The panels ready to be mounted at the site AKK, Kamaso site Manager admires the new panels Water comes through the pipes for the first time In May 2011 Jalloh led the installation of a 350 Watt system that pumps water from a well into two tanks with 5000 litres of capacity and from there, irrigates an acre of land for crop production in Kamaso, Koinadugu District. After an initial site survey the project was given the technical go ahead and the installation was carried out over a five day period from the 9th to the 13th of May, Training on installation and basic maintenance was incorporated into the installation by Jalloh, with practical on-the-job training followed by evening classes with a notepad and pen in the outdoor classroom (a selection of rocks at the top of the site that form a seating area). Jalloh conducts practical training during the installation Abdul K. Koroma who has led the efforts to bring a solar irrigation system to the Kamaso site was delighted to see the finished product and is convinced that it will make a huge difference in their day to day work, and will positively affect crop yields too. The irrigation system consists of 2x175 Watt solar panels that pump water up from a well to two big tanks (3000 L and 2000 L) at the top of the site. From there, the water is easily pumped through a maze of watering pipes that zig zag across the land. With this system the crops will have constant irrigation even through the hottest days of the dry season, thanks to the deep well at the bottom of the site. Kamakwie Maternal Health Centre Provided with a solar home system Pictured above are Ramatu Jalloh, Mamusu Bangura and Kadiatu Bangura with their small babies, in front of Kamakwie Maternal Health Centre. EFO has provided a solar home system to the centre. It will provide much needed light for night births and other night time treatment of pregnant women as well as neonatal care, in Kamakwie. Kamakwie Community Resource Centre Jalloh, JBC, a local carpenter, Reverend Alusine Kargbo and his two sons, on the porch at the centre Jalloh and James Brima Conteh (JBC) installed a 1050 Watt system into the Kamakwie Community Resource Centre in August EFO was pleased to employ JBC - who recently attended the Gbendembu training course in basic solar installation and maintenance - for this installation. The Resource Centre is owned and managed by the Sella Community Development Project and is supported by Credit Express, UK, and Richard Meads, the Director of Fair Trade Mining. It will host a library, several computers, an audio-visual system as well as having lights and is intended as a resource for students and researchers from Kamakwie and beyond.