Malawi power deficits fuels charcoal business, forests shrinks

Impoverished villagers are hacking down Malawi’s forests to make charcoal, undeterred by government efforts to confiscate the dirty fuel as a power deficit stokes demand.

Malawi is climbing up in its deforestation rate as power deficit force people to hack the forests to make charcoal.

Malawi is climbing up in its deforestation rate as power deficit force people to hack the forests to make charcoal.

Malawi charcoal sellers

Malawi charcoal sellers

Only 9 percent of the southern African country’s population have access to electricity, ensuring a good market for the charcoal produced by communities living near forests.

The fuel is sold mainly in urban and semi-urban areas where even those who do have a power connection cannot afford electricity for cooking.

Alex Thom, standing by his bags of charcoal on the roadside at Bale in Rumphi in northern Malawi, said he and others make charcoal by smouldering wood because it provides steady earnings.

“This is our major source of income. The cash crops we grow are seasonal, which means there are parts of the year when we have nothing to sell. But we can store the charcoal and sell it later,” he said.

Charcoal producers, including those around the vast Dzalanyama forest stretching between Dedza and the Malawian capital Lilongwe, say they are driven to the environmentally destructive trade by poverty.

“There is a need to economically empower the poor, especially those in areas bordering natural forests,” said Charles Kajoloweka, a consultant on forest issues.

Policies should encourage local people to co-manage the forests so they see the mutual benefits of protecting them, he added.

Kajoloweka described Malawi’s deforestation rate as “alarming”, and said the real situation was not reflected in out-of-date official figures.

The Department of Forestry told the Thomson Reuters Foundation researchers put the deforestation rate at between 1.6 percent and 2.8 percent of forest cover per year. It plans to commission a new estimate.–Reuters.

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government should subsidize electricity and make this as a priority. charcoal is mostly used in urban areas where there is adequate supply of electricity. if electricity is subsidized most people in urban areas will be using electricity for cooking instead of charcoal, therefore charcoal market will decline and deforestation will not take root.


the problem is escom and gvment just imagine when the transfomeer breaks it takes 6 month to be replaced .so what people should do?

concerned malawian
Malawi is turning into a desert little by little.There is so much deforestation in Malawi.90% of Malawians do not use electricity for cooking.Everyday they use charcoal and firewood for cooking.Even those people who use electricity,very few uses electricity for cooking because electricity is very expensive.The government has not found solutions for the mass poor Malawians who survives on charcoal and firewood for cooking instead of sending security people to beat these helpless people.The funny thing is that same security people uses the same charcoal when they confiscate from the charcoal burners.Malawi has not found another alternative how these people will… Read more »

A country with bad priorities. More interested in recurrent budget than infrustrustructure development.

Nanga ntani

Electricity cost in Malawi is very high of which most Malawian cannot afford to pay their bill if they use electricity for cooking. Gas also is expensive. Government is no 1 fuelling this. Because a normal government which has got a well fair of its citizen can can set k333.00 to be a normal pay day. What is this ??? How can someone pay electricity out of this wages???.

half man half biscuit
half man half biscuit

Amalawi tiyeni tisalimbabe ndi escom. Zimachita kutenga nthawi yaitali kuti ayike magetsi komanso katangale kwabasi. Pezani timapamelo tiwiri ndi kabatire kabwino kwinako kumaphikira gasi kapena makala. Koma at least aliyense adzale mitengo ten pachaka. Tsogolo musanamizidwe liri mmakala ndi solar. Whatmore with makala mukuchita contribute ku community development rather than kupereka ndalama ku escom kumene andale akadzitafune.

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