Traditional Authority Sitola of Machinga has blamed government for not being serious about protecting forest reserves in the country.
Speaking on Wednesday at Bisa Primary School when NGO Gender Coordination Network (NGOGCN) held an issue based advocacy meeting within the Local Governance Socio-Economic Development Project, Sitola said forestry officials are encouraging charcoal burning in Liwonde Forest Reserve by conniving with charcoal burners to share the proceeds.
“I have personally seen the forestry officials doing this and have sent a list of these corrupt officials who contract people to be burning charcoal in Liwonde Forest Reserve to the District Commissioner’s office but nothing is being done,” Sitola said.
Sitola said some of his chiefs have caught the charcoal burners but once surrendered to police they are released on the same day.
He called upon government to deploy the army to help protect the Liwonde Forest Reserve and save it from extinction.
McDonald Makanjira, councillor for Chinguni Ward, said due to the destruction of natural resources in the forest reserve, water is becoming a big problem in the area.
“T/A Sitola Water Users Association which has its source from the forest reserve is experiencing intermittent water supply, a that has direct bearing on women and girl children who walk long distances to fetch water,” Makanjira said.
MP for Machinga Likwenu, David Lali, said the current government policy on forest is ineffective such that charcoal burners get off the hook with petty fines.
“Charcoal is in high demand because government has not given the people an alternative coupled with a weak policy direction, the situation is pathetic,” Lali said.
Au b r e y Ch a g u z i k a , NGOGCN M&E senior officer, said women and girls continue to face different challenges emanating from lack of adequate social services one of which is clean portable water.
NGOGCN, which is a grouping of 51 local NGOs, is implementing the project with funding from United States Agency for International Development (Usaid) through National Democratic Institute (NDI) in Machinga, Balaka and Lilongwe Districts.
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