Malawi — The National Civic Education Department (NCED) in the Ministry of Information, Tourism and Culture has joined hands with the Environment Affairs Department (EAD) to carry out a three month intensive bushfires sensitization campaign across the country to protect natural resources.
The campaign which will be sponsored by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) through Environment Natural Resources Management Project (ENRM) is aimed at engaging communities in natural resources prone districts to keep guard against any fierce bushfires that may destroy their already existing natural resources.
Speaking before the second phase of the campaign, the Sustainable Land Management (SLM) technical advisor, Henry Sibanda said ENRM project is behind the campaign because this year it wants to prepare all communities which fall within the SLM impact areas not to be affected by rampant bushfires which have been damaging conserved natural resources.
“For the past three years we have been supplying communities in Neno, Mwanza, Balaka and Blantyre tree seedlings, fingerings, cassava cuttings, sweet potatoes vanes.In addition farmers have been equipped with conservation agriculture expertise in order for them to preserve their farm lands and other conserved areas fromsoil erosion but all these efforts have been greatly affected by bushfires.
“This year, therefore, we need these communities to be sensitized on the possible causes of bushfires for them to safe-guard their conserved areas and thereafter enjoy the benefits that come due to proper natural resources management,” said Sibanda.
The EAD Principal Environment Officer, Clement Tikiwa said this year’s bushfires sensitization campaign has come at the right time since this is a critical period when most irresponsible people who are fond of setting fire such as mice hunters, lazy farmers who want to clear their farm land in an easy way, smokers, children and those who want to scare dangerous reptiles like snakes.
“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, therefore, the campaign will assist in addressing such a challenge,” observed Tikiwa.
The NCED deputy director, Patrick Ndasauka said his department is well set for this exercise with rightful key messages such as causes and effects of bushfires, interventions for bushfires management and benefits of environment and natural resources conservation.
“Besides developing several messages on bushfires we have also produced a video documentary which we intend to screen in all the targeted areas to compliment public talks which we will hold with district officers and the community committees,” explain Ndasauka.
The targeted areas during this year’s bush fires campaign are those from eight ENRM districts of Neno, Mwanza, Blantyre, Balaka, Ntcheu, Dedza, Kasungu, Mzimba and Karonga.