Energy Efficient Production and Utilization of Charcoal through Innovative Technologies and Private Sector Involvement

Lead country

Sierra Leone

Participating countries

Sierra Leone

Project status


Implementing period

From April 24, 2015 to December 7, 2020

SDGs addressed by this project

SDG targets

  1. 7.2 Increase share of global renewable energy
  2. 13.2 Integrate climate change into national policies, planning
  3. 8.3 Promote job-creation, entrepreneurial policies

Project ID: 4904

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Technical team

  • Energy Programme

Technical area(s)

  • Energy access


  • Sustainable charcoal
  • Clean cooking


  • Forests
  • Human altered areas


  • General
  • Urban areas
  • Rural areas

Transformed sector(s)

  • Energy
  • Forestry and other land use
  • Materials and manufacturing

UNDP role(s)

  • Capacity development / Technical assistance
  • Convening / Partnerships / Knowledge Sharing
  • Innovative approaches


  • Governance
  • Capacity building
  • Finance economy


  • Institutional framework
  • Partnerships
  • Laws/ Policy/ Plan formulation
  • Technical capacity building
  • Improved & diversified sustainable livelihoods (TP 5)
  • Sustainable agriculture practices and use of resources (TP 2, 7, 8, 9)
  • Energy finance

Social inclusion

  • Private sector
  • Local community/CSOs
  • Smallholder farmers

Gender equality

  • Gender-responsive policies

Gender result effectiveness scale

  • Gender responsive


  • Systems pathway
  • People pathway
  • Sci-tech pathway

Risk reduction target(s)

  • Hazard control/mitigation
  • Improve resilience

SDG target(s)

  • 7.2 Increase share of global renewable energy
  • 13.2 Integrate climate change into national policies, planning
  • 8.3 Promote job-creation, entrepreneurial policies

Conventions and protocols


Private sector(s)

  • Entrepreneurs, manufacturing firms, investors

Hot topic

  • Multi-stakeholder collaboration
  • Poverty reduction
  • Food and agricultural commodities strategy

About this project


The production and trade in charcoal has been a massive rural growth industry over the past decade in Sierra Leone. A minority urban fuel during the 1980s and 1990s, it has gradually displaced firewood and is now the fuelwood of choice for the majority of urban residents because: it is affordable by all cadres of society and the only option available for the many low waged urban employees; it is substantially more efficient than wood and burns with very limited smoke and less fire hazard (preferred by landlords) and it has higher calorific value and easier to transport than wood. As a result, many people consider charcoal a relatively modern fuel when burn on the modern stoves. Notwithstanding its popularity, the charcoal and cookstoves sub-sector remains informal, unregulated and fragmented, plagued by inefficient production system relying on non-renewable sources supported by incoherent and often conflicting policy statements. Harvesting of wood for charcoal differs considerably to firewood as charcoal wood supplies are often obtained from forests and woodlands rather than farms. This is because in many of the higher production level villages, charcoal production conducted in addition to farming, instead of farming; as the trade has become lucrative enough for some villages that they have been able to give up their reliance on agriculture and purchase all household supplies from charcoal production income. At this rate, the pressure on natural resources will be exacerbated even further as communities produce more charcoal to meet their livelihood demands and urban charcoal consumer demand. It is worth noting, however, that one immediately evident issue is that some charcoal producers specifically target hardwood species of high commercial export value, resulting in an economically inefficient use of forest resources. Interventions should avoid trying to fundamentally change how the fuelwood industry operates but instead solutions should be focused on making the trade and business more efficient, resilient and sustainable by incentivizing all value chain actors as inclusive business. Objectives of the Project: The overall goal of this project is “Energy Efficient Production and Utilization of Charcoal through Innovative Technologies and Private Sector Involvement in Sierra Leone.” The objective of the project is to bring economic, social and environmental benefits through the production of certified charcoal from sustainably sourced feedstock and through the promotion of improved cookstoves to reduce fuel wood demand, improve health and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The project is well aligned with: i) the Agenda for Prosperity (2013-2017) to promote a low carbon, climate resilient, high growth, genders sensitive, inclusive and sustainable development path; and ii) the National Forestry Policy (2010) to promote the rehabilitation and conservation of forests, soil and water resources, and other relevant national policy and legal frameworks.


Removal of barriers to sustainable production and utilization of biomass resources in Sierra Leone and application of biomass energy technologies to support local economic, environmental and social development that leads to GHG mitigation.

USD $1,818,182

Grant amount

USD $9,050,000

Leveraged amount (co-financing)


Source(s) of fund

Sources of fund


  • Global Environment Facility – Trust Fund ($1,818,182)

Implementing partner(s)

  • Government of Sierra Leone

Related resources

Geospatial information

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Project reports and documentation



Energy Efficient Production and Utilization of Charcoal through Innovative Technologies and Private Sector Involvement