FAO Regional Office for Africa

FAO, partners explore Prosopis biomass as energy source in Djibouti

The utilization of Prosopis tree as an alternative source of wood fuel energy has actual environmental, economic and social benefits. ©FAO/Djibouti

3rd July 2017 - In efforts of providing source of energy to refugees and the prospect of income generating activities for host communities, FAO, with partners, has launched a project that promotes the utilization of Prosopis tree biomass as source of energy.

The new project is a joint collaboration of FAO, UNHCR, the Ministry of Agriculture, Water, Fishery, Livestock and Marine Resources (MAEPE-RH) and Ministry of Housing, Urban Planning and Environment.

The first phase of the project aims to develop a feasibility study on the spatial distribution of Prosopis in the country and the amounts of standing biomass as well as its economic potential to create resilient livelihood opportunities.

The results from this initial study will provide data on the actual environmental, economic and social benefit of the utilization of Prosopis tree as an alternative source of wood fuel energy for the refugee camps and an income-generating activity for the host communities.

Currently, in the absence of viable alternatives, over 15 thousands refugees hosted in the Ali Sabieh Region of the Republic of Djibouti,  must walk daily for kilometers  in order to cut  Acacias trees branches which have a detrimental effect on the environment, a major worry of the host community.

In this respect, this project will support the development of a full-fledged proposal including the identification of donors and other relevant stakeholders for the implementation. This project builds upon the Djibouti National Prosopis Management Strategy (2015-2018) with financial and technical support from FAO.

About Prosopis tree

According FAO studies, Prosopis can be turned into a resource given the multipurpose benefits that could be realized to alleviate poverty and for food security in the country. Prosopis tree species are fast-growing and very tolerant to drought and can grow in poor and saline soils but if left unmanaged represent a challenge for the native vegetation also preventing forage grasses from growing with a negative impact on the animals and the pastoralists.

The utilization of Prosopis for energy purposes presents an opportunity of adequately managing and controlling this rapidly propagating species. Prosopis trees are included in the list of the World’s Worst 100 Weeds by the World Conservation Union’s Invasive Species Specialist Group, for their significant negative impacts on biodiversity.

Prosopis was introduced in the Republic of Djibouti in 1950s for shade and shelter, and Prosopis pallida was planted as a street tree in many towns. Prosopis juliflora was not introduced until the 1980s, when it was planted in various parts of the country in an attempt to control desertification.