Editorial: Sustainable Energy to Combat Desertification
Improved cook stoves or
desert? You choose! - From exhibition in Nigeria.
Photo: Ide Djermakoyo ONDPH/Dieudonnoudou,
Twenty five percent (25%) of the global population live in dry,
semi-dry, and sub-humid areas, confronted with the problems of desertification
and drought effects. 40% of the population in Africa, 39% in Asia and 30% in
South America are directly affected.
Not directly affected areas get the effects of these problems
through population movements such as migrations and flows of refugees in search
of better living conditions. That makes the phenomenon worldwide and justifies
the implementation of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification. The
Convention is intended to lead a struggle against the phenomenon and, more
globally, against poverty, on a worldwide scale.
Thus, since the adoption of this Convention in 1994, African
countries have started a process of elaboration and implementation of strategies
and policies to combat desertification and drought effects. These strategies and
policies are developed within the framework of action programs against
desertification that the affected countries have promised to conduct and expand
nationally, sub-regionally, and regionally.
Sustainable exploitation of energy potentials and an increase in
the worth of local energy resources are priorities of these action programs in
Africa, as is considering the environmental consequences of energy use. In fact,
the energy problems of African countries of dry areas are characterized by the
predominance of the use of wood for fuel. Wood fuel accounts for more than 80%
of the final consumption of energy. It contributes to deforestation, soil
erosion, and, more globally, to poverty. In the meantime, the consumption level
per capita in Africa remains the lowest in the world, 0.4 toe/inhabitant. Hence,
the necessity of action in order to increase it and to support adequate economic
and social development.
This brings us to another dilemma. How do we increase energy
consumption to support development concerns without damaging the environment?
The answer to this question explains the interest that the Convention gives to
renewable-energy sources as means of fighting desertification. To this new
approach, we can add the interest that the partners to development, including
the World Bank, give to the implementation of actions based on successful
experiences, the best practices in the countries involved.
With this in mind, the International Network for Sustainable
Energy (INFORSE), in collaboration with ENDA (INFORSE Western Africa
Coordinator), set up a process to collect examples of good practices in the
field of renewable energy and of eco-technology dealing with the fight against
desertification. Thus, many experiences are presented in the enclosed theme from
case studies in Burkina Faso, Senegal and Mauritania. They deal with wind
technology for water pumping, with solar drying of agricultural products, as
well as with improved stoves and solar cookers that reduce or eliminate the need
to use wood as fuel.