NIGER: a greener Tabaski to combat overconsumption of wood

Published on 21/06/2024 | La rédaction


The 2024 edition of the Tabaski feast was marked in Niger by a campaign to combat the over-consumption of firewood. As the Muslim holiday approaches, the streets of Niamey are often invaded by the firewood needed for the celebrations. A trend that is having alarming repercussions on the environment. Faced with deforestation and the desertification it engenders, the non-governmental organization (NGO) Jeunes volontaires pour l'environnement (JVE) has repeated its awareness-raising campaigns to promote more sustainable practices and protect Niger's fragile ecosystems.

Every Tabaski holiday, also known as Aïd al-Adha, the streets of Niamey, the capital of Niger, are transformed into veritable firewood markets. This material is indispensable for grilling sheep, a central element of the celebrations. Unfortunately, this festive tradition leads to massive wood consumption, estimated at over 50,000 tons in just 24 hours. The practice, which has increased over the years, is beginning to pose major environmental problems, including massive deforestation and desertification.

Nigerien authorities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are sounding the alarm. Excessive logging is contributing to progressive land degradation in Niger, a country already hard hit by the effects of climate change (prolonged droughts). Faced with this situation, initiatives are being launched to raise public awareness and encourage more environmentally-friendly behavior.

Only 20% of land is arable

Since 2017, the NGO Jeunes volontaires pour l'environnement (JVE) has been running an awareness campaign called Tabaski Ecolo. This initiative aims to inform Nigeriens about the consequences of the intensive use of wood and to promote sustainable practices. The organization is also distributing mango plants to the people of Niamey, encouraging them to plant trees to compensate for abusive logging.

The awareness-raising and reforestation efforts of organizations such as JVE testify to the determination of civil society in Niger to combat desertification and climate change. By encouraging more sustainable practices, these initiatives hope to reduce the environmental impact of traditional celebrations and protect Niger's natural resources for future generations.

Niger is one of the world's poorest countries, with 85% of its population living on less than two dollars a day, placing them in a situation of extreme poverty. Around 70% of Nigeriens depend on agriculture for their livelihood, but the soil is so impoverished that 94% of the population live and farm on just 20% of the available land, according to figures from the World Food Programme (WFP). Drought and erosion have turned the soil into a hard crust, making cultivation almost impossible.


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