From laissez–faire to organized groups – A short history of sustainable charcoal producer associations in Kenya and Zambia

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This publication is part of a series of briefs describing findings from the EU-funded Governing Multifunctional Landscapes Sustainable Woodfuel project, which aims to contribute to knowledge, options, and networks for more sustainable woodfuel value chains across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Key lessons

  • Charcoal production in Kenya and Zambia has traditionally been informal, particularly in poor rural communities with few or no other income-generating options.
  • In recent years, with support from the GML sustainable woodfuel project and partners, as well as government policies, charcoal producers have organized into associations.
  • Environmental benefits of this organization into charcoal producer associations can be seen through the increased adoption of improved kilns, initiation of tree planting and regeneration activities, and awareness-raising and peer-to-peer monitoring and/or knowledge exchange.
  • Socioeconomic benefits of associations include higher incomes for producers, greater participation of women including in leadership positions, and better compliance with government regulations, as reflected in increased revenues for county governments from licensing fees.
  • Adopting a unified approach is key to ensuring the development of a more sustainable charcoal value chain, including transparent, consistent and coordinated regulatory institutional mechanisms that incentivize compliance as well as penalizing unsustainable practices.


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