Mozambique: Uncontrolled Bush Fires Devastate Namaacha

Mozambique: Uncontrolled Bush Fires Devastate Namaacha

2 August 2007

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Namaacha, Mozambique — Uncontrolled bush fires are devastating thousands of hectares in the southern Mozambican district of Namaacha, on the border with Swaziland.

The Namaacha district administrator, Artur Chindandala, told AIM that the fires have destroyed about 5,000 hectares so far this year, and 10,000 hectares last year. He warned that the situation is set to worsen if strong measures are not taken to check the phenomenon. “Uncontrolled bush fires are a serious concern, not just for the government, but for the entire community”, he said.

Fire is used recklessly in much of rural Mozambique to clear land for planting, for producing charcoal, and for poaching – in the latter case, the fires are set to drive the terrified animals into the open where then can more easily be caught. Chandandala said that four people were arrested on Tuesday, accused of setting fires for purposes of poaching He said that whenever it is necessary to burn a certain area, for agricultural purposes, people should first isolate the area to be burnt, to prevent the spread of the fire.

The government has included the struggle against uncontrolled bush fires as part of its environment strategy. The National Director for Environmental Management in the Environment Ministry, Policarpo Napica, said that a plan is being worked on and should be completed and submitted to his ministry’s technical council by September He explained that the idea is to involve all institutions working in rural development, and empower traditional leaders to take measures against those who deliberately set bush fires.

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