Mr. President, Give Me the Tools [Archives:2001/02/Focus]

January 8 2001

Ali Yousef Al- sharif
Sanaa Yemen
The uniqueness of our beautiful Island of Socotra is fascinating in all aspects of nature and culture. Its tourism potential is remarkable but there is much work to be done to bring it to the standard of other cities in the country. The fruit of unification has spared no pains in giving all attention and care by building a new airport, roads, communication facilities, sports club and medical clinics. But as indicated earlier there are a lot more important tasks to be carried out on priority basis. As far as I know, the UNDP has undertaken an environmental conservation project, presumably on marine eco-system and has provided medical facilities including ambulances. The issue, which I wish to emphasize here, relates to the lack of protection of rare plants and trees.
It is a known fact that traditionally as a practice to meet domestic daily needs, the villagers including those who live in the city of Socotra use fire wood heavily as their dependable source of energy instead of butane gas. Yet it is only available in the city and too expensive for the common man. Consequently, a large number of trees are cut on a daily basis.
This unfortunate phenomenon indeed constitutes a threat to the existence of rare birds and would lead eventually to an extinction of wild animals and precious plants. The beauty of nature once destroyed, will remain destroyed forever. I simply cannot imagine the depth of the wound. We cannot simply let a slow-death situation go unprevented in this magnificent Island of Socotra.
In view of the above mentioned circumstances, I am of the opinion that the government should ensure that bottled butane gas are made available at the subsidized price in every corner of the Island as a part of a measure to embark on discouraging citizens from cutting trees to fulfill fuel requirements.
If at all this does not reflect in the policy of the state, the concerned authorities may approach UNDP and seek technical assistance, in training people of the area to use BioGas. This amazing method of obtaining energy through animals waste is being used in the Republic of Kenya, Pakistan and other developing countries and especially in rural areas. The nature of this project demands people to raise livestock in their environment or homes. Our brothers in Socotra perfectly meet these criteria. I am certain, this sustainable project once introduced villagers will embrace it, the nature of this project aims at minimizing the economic and social problems as well as negative environmental consequences. I believe women would not need trees to obtain fire for home use nor require so much time to fetch firewood in the forest, but rather spend more time at home. Evidently, the project will improve villagers living condition.
I must pen off now! I am running out of time but before quitting, would like to tell Mr. President that, if given the tools, I shall be able to implement the whole process of the environment program.