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Niger: promoting a greener Tabaski to reduce excessive firewood use

In 2024, the Tabaski festival in Niger saw a significant campaign aimed at reducing the excessive use of firewood. As the Muslim holiday approaches, the streets of Niamey are typically filled with firewood for the festivities, a practice that is increasingly harmful to the environment. In response to the deforestation and desertification resulting from this trend, the NGO Young Volunteers for the Environment (JVE) has intensified its efforts to raise awareness and encourage more sustainable practices to safeguard Niger’s vulnerable 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 essential for grilling the sheep, a central feature of the celebrations. Unfortunately, this festive tradition leads to massive consumption of wood, estimated at over 50,000 tonnes in just 24 hours. The practice, which has increased over the years, is beginning to pose major environmental problems, notably massive deforestation and desertification.

The Niger authorities and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are sounding the alarm. Excessive logging is contributing to the gradual degradation of the land 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 awareness among the population and encourage more environmentally-friendly behaviour.

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 organisation is also distributing mango plants to the people of Niamey, encouraging them to plant trees to compensate for the excessive cutting.

The awareness-raising and reforestation efforts carried out by organisations such as JVE demonstrate 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 poorest countries in the world, 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 ….. Drought and erosion have turned the soil into a hard crust, making cultivation almost impossible.

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