By Hope Bwalya
The setting up of a factory to start producing charcoal briquettes using agriculture is underway in Katete.
True Environment Cooperative is setting up the factory following receiving K1.1 million, a sub grant capital from the Zambia Integrated Forest Landscape Project (ZFILP).
True Environment Cooperative Founder Gilbert Tembo told the Zambia News and Information Services that the funding is meant to aid the cooperative establish a charcoal briquette processing plant and its various implements.
Mr Tembo disclosed that the funding is already being used as the cooperative has started its construction works of the factory.
“We were given about K1.1 million for the briquette factory and construction works have already begun and are at 25 percent. The works started in December last year and within 60 days you are going to see an elect structure,” he said.
According to Mr Tembo, the plant will not just contribute towards the fight against climate change and deforestation but will also contribute towards the fight against unemployment.
“This project is going to create jobs both direct and indirectly, over hundred jobs are going to be created from this project,” he said.
ZIFLP is a US$32.8 million World Bank project that provides support to rural communities to undertake projects that end deforestation and landscape degradation.
Under its subcomponent, the project is providing investment of sub grants to help beneficiaries of the project undertake various income and job creation enterprises throughout the agriculture value chain, forestry treasure trove and promotion of eco-tourism.
Meanwhile, Headman Greya, Alfred Phiri, has thanked ZIFLP for financing the project which he said will go a long way in alleviating poverty, fighting deforestation and reducing unemployment.
“We are grateful to government for this development. This development will help residents of Greya Village as well as the whole Eastern Province, because our natural resource here in the Eastern Province have been exhausted because of charcoal burning and cutting down of trees,” he said.
And Stella Phiri, one of the workers employed to cook meals for the construction, said the briquettes project is of benefit to the community because it has already showed the capacity to employ.
She said the project will help bring sustainable development to the area as it will curb the destruction of the natural resources, especially trees that are being cut indiscriminately for charcoal and wood fuel.
“I am so grateful because they have considered us, because truly the natural resource is being destroyed. I am so grateful for this development, because even electricity now will easily be connected here because of the development,” she said.
Ms Phiri said her community has now got access to water for domestic use and watering hole for livestock because of the presence of the project.
“We used to have water challenges, we used to walk far in Musada area to fetch water, but now we have water nearby that we didn’t have,” she said.
The project has drilled a borehole for its various activities which has created easy access to clean and safe water for the residents of Greya Village living around it.
The cooperative produces charcoal briquettes from agri-waste as a means of r as an alternative energy to ordinary charcoal and wood fuel whose demand has contributed to deforestation and consequently climate change.