Timber residues become an economic opportunity for women in Ikwiriri and helps in saving forests | WWF
Timber residues become an economic opportunity for women in Ikwiriri and helps in saving forests

Posted on 22 August 2019

Not long ago, Salima and nine of her friends sat down to discuss how they can overcome poverty. Living in a community that confines women into household chores and agriculture, they knew they had to do something drastic to improve their wellbeing. ‘’We saw an opportunity in using the log factory residues (bans/slabs) which were considered a waste and we thought we can utilize that to our benefit. We approached the factory and asked for the residues which they provided happily saying they did not know what to do with them. For us this was an opportunity to improve our wellbeing and save the environment. And, the birth of Mirerani Group’’ said Salima Mponda,Chairperson,Mireran Group based in Ikwiriri Kaskazini Village.
‘’We were nine of us, some housewives and others like myself single mothers. We had no land to cultivate and we could not afford to rent land. On the other hand, we were uneducated, so we had no chance in formal employment. We had to make hard deliberations to sort our financial situation out!” Said Salima then laughing out.
Having secured the needed raw materials, the women got to work on making traditional charcoal Kilns    next to the factories for easy access. Since all women had not received training in charcoal production they relied on guidance and information from other people.
‘’It was a trial and error sort of experience. Overwhelmed with different information and ideas we got, we decided to do it our way. And, yes, we got charcoal! The entire process was colossal but rewarding we got a sense of accomplishment’’. confesses group cashier Tabia Milandu.
In December 2018, Tanzania Traditional Energy Development and Environment Organison (TaTEDO), funded by WWF through Sida Leading the Change Programme provided a six days  training  on Sustainable Charcoal Production to this specific group and others who were interested.
After the training, as instructed, the group constructed   kilns equipped with chimneys that helped reduce environmental pressure by increasing charcoal yields
Smiling through her remarks Ms Mauwa Lwambe said ‘’Before the training we produced between 80-100 bags of charcoal. Since, December last year to date we have produced 500 bags of charcoal weighing approximately 100kg with lesser materials. And, the new kilns are much safer and produce less smoke.’
For many years Ikwiriri District Council was considered a place to get cheap   furniture and other forest products like timber. A small historical town at the banks of the River Rufiji and along the Southern highway, Ikwiriri has steady grown both demographically and economically.
With half of its population relaying on agriculture by taking advantage of the river’s wetland, the council also trades in forest products as it is surrounded by heavy coastal forest
  With 30 active members currently the group now look to the future with hope.
"With the good market linkage that we have now we believe we will be able to promote sustainable charcoal production. On the other hand, we will be able to earn more income. We are becoming really formal with a group account in place even our finances are secure”, said Tumu Limbale,a group member.
Speaking on the future of forest conservation another member Mayasa Mtupa added
‘’Unfortunately, our village has no forest reservation, but our charcoal comes from certified forests. Since we benefit from trees harvesting, we must plant trees. It is our group norm! Each member has trees planted in their family farmland from fruits to timber tree species. Trees are valuable to us’’.
‘’Although national wide charcoal consumption could be expected to decrease in the near future, it is still important to providing charcoal makers with a range of suitable technical methods from which to choose. As there are rural household that can’t afford clean cooking technologies. Ikwiriri District recognizes the support of WWF and TaTEDO, among other partners, who continue to support sustainable management of natural resources’ ’concluded Robert Kiondo, the District Forest Officer(DFO).
Timber residues used for charcoal production
© Diana Shuma