Wednesday, February 16, 2011

ADRA Malawi in tree planting drive

By Elias Banda

On the 3rd of February 1200 trees were planted by Kumponda Village community in Mulanje at a tree planting ceremony organised by the Women Empowerment Phase 2 (WEP2) project.
The purpose of the event was to raise the awareness of climate change issues and to avert its effects, particularly in the Thanguzi River catchment which has been marred by mass deforestation.

Throughout the ADRA WEP2 Project several communities in Mulanje have been involved in planting trees and discussions on issues of climate change. For this ceremony the project purchased mahogany tree seedlings and collaborated with the Forestry Department for the planting event.

Speaking at the ceremony, Village Head Kumponda stated that 20 years earlier the Thanguzi River bank had, had an abundance of trees, but an increase in human activities have caused the destruction of its natural resources. He said the Thanguzi River is now characterised by deep gullies due to soil erosion and this in turn has affected the surrounding maize fields.

Group Village Head Robeni echoed Kumponda’s remarks and said that the impact of climate change has been tangible and heavily felt, including the reoccurring dry spells.

Earlier in the day, a drama performance challenged the superstitious beliefs of people who believed that the erratic rains were being caused by an act of witchcraft. This belief has often resulted in beatings of people who are accused of possessing powers to prevent the rains. A village chief in another village for example, was threatened with death when a group of people armed with clubs and knives descended on him last year believing that he was responsible for the delayed rains.

Other practices such as chiefs forcing their community members to eat hot chilli powder to bring on rains were also dispelled. Traditional Authority Chikumbu said in an interview that she was shocked to learn of these practices and implored people to learn the true causes and effects of climate change.

Elena Kululanga, the climate change scientist who was present at the function lead the way in addressing such misconceptions saying that climate change was caused by the growing industrialisation in both developed and developing countries. She also stated that industries sending large amounts of carbon into the atmosphere affect rainfall patterns but so too do communities such as the ones around the Thanguzi River. This is because they cut down trees, trees that aid in the absorption of the accumulated carbon in the atmosphere. She advised that communities should adopt methods that could reduce the effects of climate change such as tree planting and using energy saving stoves.

At the function, women demonstrated the use of energy saving stoves as one of the ways to reduce the impact of climate change. According to Thaose Malikita, who has been using the stove since October last year, the cooking device is more effective because it uses few sticks of firewood compared to the three-stone open fires. She said unlike the traditional method of cooking, the stove does not produce smoke and chances of getting smoke related infections are reduced.

Village Head Chilungulo said the adoption of energy saving stoves in her village is high because people have discovered that the new cooking method is faster and versatile. She said that last year her village produced 230 stoves and some have even been sold in the nearby village.
Chilungulo Village was piloted in energy saving stove making under the WEP2 Project in partnership with Mulanje Renewable Energy Agency (MUREA) and lessons learnt have been replicated in nine of the twenty project villages.

Vincent Gondwe, MUREA Program Coordinator for Mulanje and Phalombe districts said the partnership with ADRA Malawi has been fruitful and that communities have benefited tremendously. He said the use of energy saving stoves have changed peoples’ lives in many ways including the reduction of rape cases. He said women were raped while looking for firewood in distant bushes. He said the adoption of the stoves by the community has increased people’s interest to participate in sustainable natural resource management activities.

Women Empowerment Project Manager Andiyesa Mhango said the adoption of energy saving stoves has reduced the time women took to look for firewood. She said the saved time would be used for other meaningful development activities including women participation in development activities.


SunTura said...

Unknown said...

Definitely a great share! Engaging yourselves in an environmental awareness activity is really an act that should be shared with others. I hope everyone will do the same and create a clean and green environment for the future generations. Environmental Training can help people understand and be aware of different things to save the environment.

Dimple Santiago said...

For me this kind of activity is a great opportunity because I know planting a tree is important. The people in that place are really inspiring hope one day I can join in this activity. Thanks.

Kirstz | tree planting Philippines