Charcoal is one of the oldest fuel sources in existence and still important fuel in Egypt. It is mainly used for water pipe also known as Shisha and for barbecuing. Charcoal production is made by stacking oranges, mangoes, and other wood and covering them with soil and rice straw, which is then heated to carbonize the wood in conditions of low oxygen.
The charcoal industry is indicated to release planet-warming greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the environmental harm is real. And then there are the health impacts on the charcoal production workers. According to the United Nations shows that charcoal production workers, who often sleep and eat next to their kilns, are at higher risk of respiratory health problems, including cough, chronic bronchitis and wheezing.
Currently, the economic situation in Egypt is deteriorating, with skyrocketing prices. Nearly one-third of the country's 104 million people live below the poverty line, and an equal number of people are "in danger of falling into poverty.
In Al Bostan, a small village on Beheira Governorate, many villagers work in about 20 charcoal factories. Smoke rises everywhere in the village, and men with blackened faces and hands are hard at work.
Shrief, 37, who works in a charcoal factory in the village, said, "Despite this economic crisis in Egypt, we have a stable income. Charcoal production has been an important industry in this village for a long time and will continue to be in the future.”