Despite the fact that Nigeria is a leading producer of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and is seventh in the world for largest reserves of natural gas, it is also one of the biggest users of wood and charcoal fuels for cooking purposes. Given that wood is essentially free and that kerosene and other fuels are expensive and often difficult to obtain, it is easy to see how this dependence is unlikely to change. But using firewood has its costs. Death and injury from wood fires is frequent -98,000 women die each year from their use, according to a WHO report- and its effects on the environment can be equally devastating: Habitat destruction, air pollution and poor soil quality are just some lasting effects.
However the path foreword will be anything but easy, as there are many barriers to change. The largest barrier is the overall lack of “resources and political will” to implement and enforce the existing policies and laws.
Politicians must also tackle the barriers to positive change on the ground, experts say – starting with poverty, lack of access to electricity, and crippling power deficits in urban areas.
“We have to adopt policies that will make gas affordable. If this is done, fuel wood will become more expensive, and if we protect the forests, people will not be able to freely go into them to cut down trees,” he said. “Poverty is the greatest threat to the environment.”
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