Chapter 1.3 – (Em)powering People: Reconciling Energy Security and Land-Use Management in the Sudano-Sahelian Region

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By Stela Nenova, Energy and Environmental Policy Consultant; and Hartmut Behrend, Bundeswehr Geoinformation Centre, German Armed Forces, Euskirchen, Germany


The Sudano-Sahelian region has been suffering from land degradation in the last few decades, and the extensive practices of extraction of fuelwood for energy supply have contributed significantly to the aggravation of this process. In addition, many countries in the region are selling or renting out significant amounts of their arable land to foreign investors, and such transactions increase further the pressure on domestic land resources. The energy systems and the land systems of these countries are strongly intertwined, as the majority of the local population does not have access to electricity and depends directly on the resources and the services of the land to provide fuelwood and charcoal for their basic energy needs. As energy security in the region is directly linked to and cannot be ensured without the deployment of sustainable land-use and land-management practices, decoupling the use of energy resources from the use of land resources will be crucial for reconciling this dilemma. Energy projections for the region indicated significant increases in energy demand in the next few decades, and solutions that value appropriately natural resources and ensure the sustainable management of these resources will be key to enhancing energy security, reducing energy poverty, and simultaneously halting land degradation. Modern technological energy solutions and the deployment of renewable energies coupled with sustainable land-use management practices, such as agroforestry, can significantly mitigate land degradation and decrease vulnerability of energy systems while supporting universal access to clean, affordable, and secure energy. The deployment of off-grid and mini-grid solutions and the expansion of the electricity grid to connect rural areas with cities and neighboring countries will enable further the widespread penetration of renewable energy across borders and promote inclusive growth. The design and implementation of stable institutional, regulatory and policy frameworks is a prerequisite for fostering a favourable investment climate and adequate incentives for lifting barriers to renewable energy technologies and for the development of robust, resilient, and secure energy systems, empowering people and preserving resources for future generations.


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