Gulu University has received a grant of six billion Shillings from the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) to carry out research on the potential of green charcoal as an alternative to wood and black charcoal in Northern Uganda.
Through the grant, the University will develop a research base to develop an inclusive innovation model for green charcoal adoption in the region. Gulu University will collaborate with Aalborg University and the University of Copenhagen in the four-year project dubbed "Unlocking the Potential of Green Charcoal Innovations To Mitigate Climate Change In Northern Uganda –UPCHAIN".
Gulu University Vice-Chancellor Prof. George Openjuru Ladaah, says that they are looking at finding the cheapest source of green charcoal as an alternative to black charcoal consumption, which has contributed to the depletion of trees.
Prof. Ladaah was speaking at the launch of the project at the University Library in Gulu City on Tuesday. He said the initiative will use agricultural waste that is in abundance in the region.
Dr. Collins Okello, the Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture and Environment at Gulu University, said that Northern Uganda being a farming region produces vast quantities of agricultural wastes, which go to waste. The agricultural waste according to Dr. Okello includes rice and groundnut husks, and maize combs.
He says with the price of black charcoal expected to rise in the coming years, green charcoal remains an alternative that should be embraced. Dr. Okello says that the University has already fabricated a local briquette-making machine that will for the meant time be producing 300kilograms of green charcoal daily.
The green charcoal innovation comes amidst the high rate of forest cover depletion in Northern Uganda. The majority of locals within and outside the region still rely heavily on wood fuel and charcoal for cooking, which has led to the destruction of the available forest cover for charcoal production.
Peter Okot Mwa, a lecturer in the Department of Biosystems Engineering at the university, says that turning to green charcoal will greatly help in saving the environment since it uses agricultural wastes instead of woods.
He says the initiative will also help to avoid health complications from the use of charcoal or firewood adding that briquette making, will create jobs for locals.
Betty Ikalany, the executive Director of Teso Women Development Initiatives (TEWDI Uganda) says the project will help to mitigate climate change.
Part of the grant according to the University officials will be used to train one post-doctorate fellow, Six PhD and 12 Masters's students.