US commits K525m to reduce deforestation in Zambia

DUE to the illegal production of charcoal, the nation’s forests are facing unprecedented stress and are rapidly shrinking, notes the United States government.

Announcing a K525 million commitment to reduce deforestation in Zambia, the US government notes that Zambia’s forests are home to abundant wildlife and serve as a natural defence against climate change.

“Due to the illegal production of charcoal, however, the nation’s forests are facing unprecedented stress and are rapidly shrinking,” reads a statement from the US embassy in Lusaka.

US Agency for International Development (USAID) has awarded Tetra Tech ARD the five-year K525 million ($25 million) contract to increase adoption of renewable energy technologies and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Zambia, with the goal of reducing charcoal energy consumption by 25 per cent and reducing deforestation directly attributable to charcoal production by almost seven per cent.

Under the newly awarded Alternatives to Charcoal project provided through the USAID, the US government would work with the local private sector companies and the Zambian government to promote commercially viable alternative fuels to charcoal, curb charcoal-related deforestation, and provide alternative livelihoods for charcoal-producing communities.

According to the statement, USAID’s Alternatives to Charcoal project would take a market-driven approach to reducing charcoal consumption and partner with the Zambian government to create a facilitative business environment that encourages the private sector to provide affordable and more forest-friendly cooking fuels for Zambian households.

USAID/Zambia deputy mission director Thomas Crubaugh said the project was a flagship investment by USAID/Zambia to counter climate change and contribute towards their goal of poverty reduction through a market-driven approach that encourages the sustainable management of forest resources.

Tetra Tech chairman and chief executive officer Dan Batrack said his company has supported USAID to promote renewable energy and manage natural resources in Africa for 40 years.

“We are pleased to continue using our Leading with Science approach to promote alternative technology solutions to address the impacts of climate change in developing countries,” said Batrack.

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