Bamboo charcoal for cooking, a step towards curbing deforestation in Uganda

While forests are heavily exploited by Ugandans for firewood and cooking charcoal, a pilot study led by Uganda Christian University (UCU) concluded that the use of bamboo could advantageously replace these fuels to support the country’s reforestation. By funding the second phase of the project, FID is helping to confirm the suitability of green charcoal from bamboo for cooking purposes and its potential contribution to climate change mitigation by preserving trees.


Uganda has one of the highest rates of deforestation and forest degradation in the world. Fuelwood harvesting is at the root of this reality: approximately 95% of East African population use firewood and charcoal sources of cooking energy. Wood harvesting for construction and conversion of land for agriculture are also responsible.


To help restore forests and conserve its natural heritage, UCU, through its Sustainable Development Center, is promoting the use of green charcoal from bamboo plantations to replace firewood and charcoal as fuel.

A pilot phase that burnt bamboo charcoal in the same cooking stove as clay-based briquettes has shown successful results. The briquettes act as a “capacitor” by absorbing some of the energy released by the green charcoal, while slowly releasing their own energy from the charcoal powder also made from bamboo and incorporated into the briquette.

Two main results emerge: slow burning is feasible – matching Ugandan’s cooking habits – and cooking energy costs are reduced compared to using only unsustainable black charcoal.

Expected results

Through FID’s support, UCU’s team is continuing its demonstrations, and consolidating knowledge already obtained during the pilot phase. It accordingly has all the data needed to promote a change in the population’s mentalities and, beyond that, participate positively towards a green economy.

  • Change households’ habits, targeting in priority the educational institutions which are the big users of hardwood as fuel
  • Establish the optimal ratio of briquette to green charcoal in different sizes of charcoal stoves for scaling up
  • Plantation of bamboo to grow new forests and appropriation of the process by farmers,
  • Build capacity to estimate and utilize carbon credits that will result from new bamboo forests
  • Promote public-private partnership; develop a range of bamboo products
  • Phase out the use of hardwood as fuel; build a value chain of bamboo-based energy sources

Presentation of the team

The lead organization is the Uganda Christian University (UCU) through its Sustainable Development Center (SDC). UCU has grown to be a multi-disciplinary research and education service provider. The National Forestry Resource Research Institute (NaFORRI), a Uganda public institution mandated to undertake research in all aspects of forestry, facilitates access to mature bamboo from both public and private plantation. UCU is also working with Thermogenn for the conceptualization of the mechanization of briquette making.