01 October 2014
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Lilongwe, September 29: The body of the late Rev. Dr Stanly Chalera who served in the CCAP Nkhoma Synod for 50 years has been laid to rest at his retirement home at Traditional Authority Kalumba's area in Lilongwe. Speaking during the burial ceremony on Monday, Malawi Vice President Saulos Chilima…
Nsanje, September 29: Churches Action in Relief and Development (CARD) has noted with concern that the organization is failing to attain progress on most of their irrigation schemes in Nsanje since majority of the people involved in the community programs are demanding payment for their contribution. This comes as…
Blantyre, September 29: First-half goals from Deus Nkutu with a brace and Gastin Simkonda helped Moyale Barracks  continue their TNM Super League resurgence with an easy -fought victory over Kamuzu Barracks. And Nkutu scored his 14th league goal of the season when he tucked in Simkonda’s cut-back. It was…
Blantyre, September 29: Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Malawi Chapter Chairperson Anthony Kasunda has commended Ministry of Information, Tourism and Culture for the efforts being undertaken to have access to information bill enacted into a law. Kasunda said this in Blantyre on Monday during a half day commemoration…
Blantyre, September 29: The Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM) said it will resume the nationwide customer’s verification project. In its notice to the general public, ESCOM said the project which is aimed at verifying the number of customers on the ground as well as updating key customer data…
Blantyre, September 29: Blantyre Agriculture Development Division (BLADD) has earmarked close to 170,000 pets for vaccination against rabies in an exercise currently underway in the division which covers Mulanje, Phalombe, Blantyre, Chiradzulu, Mwanza and Neno districts. BLADD  Chief Animal Health and Livestock Development Officer Dr Edwin Nkhulungo told…
Mzimba, September 29: about 400 villagers in Mbalachanda-Mzimba have been employed in illegal deforestation business by unknown foreigners alleged to be from Mozambique and Zambia who are looking for special trees of M’bawa and Mlombwa used to make guns in their countries. Group Village Headman Botha said it is…
Kasungu, September 29: Kasungu District held its candlelight memorial over the weekend with the District Aids Coordinator (DAC) calling upon everyone to take a leading role in the fight against HIV and Aids. The ceremony took place at Chinkhoma Trading Centre in the district where apart from lighting candles…
Lilongwe, September 29: Lilongwe’s Area 25 bicycle taxi operators, popularly known as kabanza, cycled to Mchinji District Hospital on Saturday on a child and maternal health awareness campaign. The initiative was inspired by the acute shortage of working maternal materials and insufficient blood supply for transfusion at Bwaila District…
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Lilongwe, September 29: John Milele Chikweza, 93, walks with a stick and narrates as one who has seen his environment and climate change. He was born here in Gomani area in Traditional Authority Kunthembwe in Blantyre.

He had single handedly broken the quarry which was used to make concrete for the floors of Dzunga Primary School and has lived here from the period it was a dense forested area to the present when it is on the verge of becoming a huge desert with dried rivers and dead interlocking spurs.

“We had natural forests here and there was a lot of game. Even the rivers had a lot of water and the soils were so fertile that we lacked no food,” said Chikweza.

Adding, “But now all the trees are gone, we have scanty rains, we can’t even grow enough to feed ourselves from this land. Everything has changed, even water is becoming scarce.”

When people started burning charcoal from his area, he thought it was a way to uplift their economic standards which as expected they did and some bought iron sheets for their houses, but now they have to survive the heat and hunger due to dwindling yields.

“After losing most trees, we have also lost soil fertility and despite using conservation agriculture, my food only lasts less than eight months utmost and then I have to struggle with the others,” he discloses his ordeal.

“The situation doesn’t seem to improve and last year we had little rains and the environment is still being destroyed through bush fires which burn the remaining tree shoots every year,” he adds.

Chikweza says will never forget one fierily moment when he almost died from fire that was started by mice hunters in one field, 300 metres from his field.

“I’m glad I survived, but I lost my bags of maize, flour, money and all that I owned as there was no time to get anything out of my burning house. I couldn’t even cry loud enough for neighbours to intervene. All was burnt and had to start all over again,” he said.

In the words of Chikweza, the land has become drier and less productive while seasonal fires started by hunters and charcoal burners clear more land and expose the land.

While Chikweza bemoans total disregard of environment from the younger generation, he believes something can be done.

“We can let the shoots grow and plant trees to restore our lost glory,” he said.

Just kilometers from Blantyre down in Mwanza, the struggle is the same. Rapid clearing of trees and burning of grasses and deteriorating soil fertility are at highest.

Brian Mtambo, District Forestry Officer for Mwanza still has a gleam of hope and believes that when given a chance of regeneration, the environment can magically transform and significantly reverse the negative effects which Chikweza is facing.

He speaks from a background that they once had 10600 hectares of Thambani forest in Mwanza burned with fire whose source is only speculated, but like Chikweza believes natural regeneration can be a solution.

 “Natural regeneration is more effective than newly planted trees. The regenerating shoots have a developed root system and can withstand adverse conditions on their own and they are already acclimatized while the newly planted trees need to start all over.

“The regenerating shoots stand a better chance and if we allow natural regeneration of natural forests we are bound to recover our natural environment. But we need to change the mindset of the people to prevent bush fires which are destroying natural regenerating trees in our forested areas.

We have the hope that Sustainable Land Management project by Ministry of Environmental Affairs and Climate Change which is running in Mwanza, Neno, Blantyre and other districts will bear fruits in increasing awareness on environment preservation. We believe this will inspire communities to take up the responsibility,” said Mtambo.

He added, “In many areas, chiefs have bylaws, even here in Mwanza we have bylaws which we developed last year with assistance from CEPA and we are just waiting for district council’s endorsement. The bylaws will help a lot but needs to sensitize all chiefs on the same.”

Group Village Head Kawiliza from Mwanza also sees the potential of protecting existing forests other than planting new trees which have a great failure rate.

“We planted over 5000 trees last year, but only hundreds survived. But the village forests where trees are regenerating are growing well. Right now we have made a firebreak for our forests, but most chiefs do not know the bylaws and this brings environmental management problems. There is constant conflict between chiefs and government officials because many chiefs are not aware of bylaws and government laws governing environmental management,” said Kawiliza.

Malawi Environmental Affairs Department Principal Environment Officer, Clement Tikiwa told Mana reporter in September 2014 that the country has lost a lot of environmental resources to bushfires caused by farmers and other groups.
“…It is being estimated in the Malawi Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that between 1990 and 2005 the country has lost about 494,000 hectares of forests and one of the underlying causes is setting off uncontrollable bush fires…” observed Tikiwa.

While kids do it for fun and men burn for a hunt or with cigarette leftovers, people like Chikweza are on the brunt edge of the environmental and climate scare. Every day, he wakes and he smells the air for a change in humidity for the rains, but it scares him.

“It is warmer and almost impossible to predict rain like we did in the past. We just have it all of a sudden and it stops abruptly too. What can we do?”

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Regenerating forests amidst culture of bush firing

Regenerating forests amidst culture of bush firing

  Lilongwe, September 29: John Milele Chikweza, 93, walks with a stick and narrates as one who has seen his environment and climate change. He was born here in Gomani area in Traditional Authority Kunthembwe in Blantyre. He had single handedly broken the quarry which was used to make concrete for ...