March 15, 2013, Addis Ababa— More than 100 participants, including senior government leaders from 12 African countries, are convening in Addis Ababa today to discuss the sustainable development of bamboo, exchange experiences, establish firm collaboration and design common strategies on expanding the bamboo sector in Africa.
Sub-Saharan Africa is home to approximately 3 million hectares of bamboo forest. If managed properly, this highly renewable and versatile resource can improve livelihoods and provide profitable, market-driven solutions to increasing energy demands, deforestation, and water scarcity.
State Minister, Ato Sileshi Getahun, from the Ministry of Agriculture in Ethiopia, and Chair of the INBAR Council, explained that, “in Ethiopia, we are working on bamboo resource base management, capacity building, and the introduction of new bamboo technologies, all of which are showing a significant advancement of the sector in Ethiopia, and can be replicated in other African countries.”
“In fact,” he continued, “bamboo is considered the most important fast-growing strategic intervention for afforestation and reforestation in the mountainous and degraded areas in the country, and as recognised as a strategic plan by the National Sustainable Land Management Platform hosted at the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) in Addis Ababa.”
The MoA and other development partners are supporting and implementing the SLM in their effort to promote a Climate-Resilient Green Economy (CRGE) and sustainable development through the promotion of SLM practices and other technologies and initiatives.
During the workshop, experts and partners in development addressed bamboo policy, value-chain development and sustainable markets. Numerous African nations including Burundi, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Mozambique, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Togo and Uganda shared reports on the bamboo sector in their respective countries and identified areas for regional cooperation.
The workshop also showcased examples of bamboo technologies successfully implemented in Africa. Over the course of the week-long series of events, more than 100 development experts and policy makers from Africa and Asia will visit project sites and interact with local communities that are pioneering, among other technologies, bamboo charcoal and bamboo water storage tanks.
Local companies showcase bamboo products at the workshop.
“From the Bamboo as Sustainable Biomass Energy project implemented by INBAR and partners in Ghana and Ethiopia, as well as other EU-supported forestry projects, we have learned that bamboo has large potential to be successfully introduced in community or public sector managed forests and forest replacement systems to combat soil degradation and massive deforestation, while meeting the increasing domestic energy needs, especially in rural populations, and providing them with additional cash income,” stated Mr. Denis Thieulin, Head of Cooperation for the European Union Delegation to Ethiopia. He went on to note, however, that, “well-defined and legally recognised user rights and benefit sharing arrangements are preconditions for sustainable smallholder bamboo production.”
“Canada is proud to support the innovative work of INBAR,” said Canada’s Environment Minister Peter Kent. “Initiatives like the bamboo water tanks in Ethiopia and Nepal are an excellent example of solutions that can improve the quality of life in communities through actions that build resilience to climate change.”
“With several of the world’s fastest growing economies now found in sub-Saharan Africa, African nations have an unprecedented opportunity and interest to use their renewable resources, such as bamboo, to improve living conditions across the continent,” said Dr. Coosje Hoogendoorn, INBAR Director General.
Organised by the Ministry of Agriculture of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and INBAR, the workshop received support from the European Union, Environment Canada and the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ). This workshop is a part of INBAR’s ongoing efforts to strengthen collaboration and facilitate partnerships for inclusive and green development.