Monday, April 4, 2011

Commemorating World Meteorological day

Written by: Chikondi Madikiza-Madumuse

The sun was brilliantly bright, pupils in green and white uniforms, women in light blue chitenjes, and more than half of the audience in white T-shirts, each displaying the message, ‘Climate for you ’.

This was the outlook in Mulanje District, Chisitu, where the Department of Meteorology services were being held in celebration of World Meteorological Day which falls on March 23.

This was a day of sensitizing, educating, entertaining and informing the communities in Mulanje about Climate Change. Traditional dances, poetry recitals, songs, drama and speeches depicted the importance of good environmental management and generated enthusiastic support and smiles on the faces of those watching and listening.

Pupils in primary school right up to the District Commissioner, all spoke of the impact of climate change which is currently being felt throughout the country, particularly in Mulanje where recent floods have resulted in the loss of lives and property as well as injury to several people.
In his remarks during the celebrations, the District Commissioner for Malanje, Kris Ngulube said Mulanje is one of the districts that has been heavily affected by climate change resulting in weather pattern changes and floods.

“Deforestation in this area has lead to floods. The mountain is bare, the lower grounds are bare, and there is no way water can infiltrate into the soil”, he said.

Deforestation in Mulanje is fuelled by land challenges, most land is being used for tea and coffee estates, this leaves the community with small pieces of land, and for some the only choice they have is to cut down trees near or on the sidelines of Mt. Mulanje to secure land. As a result of this, the bare land permits fast flowing water to gush from Mt. Mulanje and rivers which surge into floods.

However, the deforestation in Mulanje doesn’t just affect Mulanje. In his remarks Deputy Director for Meteorological Services in Malawi, Mr. Munthali said, “Malawians need to understand that actions in Mulanje not only affect this area but other areas as well.

For instance, if Mulanje does not have vegetation cover, the waters from Mulanje Rivers feed into the Shire river, later the Shire river overflows and you find that people from the Lower Shire are affected by floods every year”.

Youth taking lead action

Another memorable part of the commemoration was the participation of the, youth from Chisitu Primary schools.

Mr Munthali, expressed the importance of their involvement, he said, “If we invest information in the youth today, it will help us mitigate the impact of climate change tomorrow. That is why today we have involved them. As they grow they will grow with knowledge that our own actions can negatively affect climate and this can be catastrophic.

Most of these young people have seen the effects of climate change. Their homes have been carried away and some do not manage to get to school because bridges have been carried away, so it is very real for them.”

One of the youth who was involved in the activities, said young people should start realizing the importance of planting trees.

“If one cuts down one tree, ten trees should be planted to replace that one,” said Chipiliro Longwe.

During the day young people prepared songs, dances, drama, placards and poems to sensitize the communities on the impact of climate change with the aim of inciting community involvement in environmental management.

ADRA Malawi applauded for its efforts in fighting climate change:

ADRA Malawi’s presence at the ceremony through its Project Women Empowerment was greatly appreciated and their efforts in environmental management have helped to further the fight against climate change.

Some of the activities include planting more than 25,000 trees in the Kumponda Village and encouraging communities to use energy saving stoves. These stoves reduce deforestation by only using half the amount of firewood compared to normal firewood stoves. 400 community members have been trained through the ADRA Malawi project, on how to construct and use the stoves.

Furthermore, ADRA Malawi through its Program Action For Social Change (ASC) involved the Meteorological Department in its media program to inform the nation about climate change, its effects and the way forward.

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