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Environment critical for better Malawi—Lazarus Chakwera

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President Lazarus Chakwera Monday said every Malawian has a critical role to play in ensuring that the country’s natural resources are protected.

Briefing the nation in Lilongwe, Chakwera said natural resources are like a bank account that the country lives on and that over the years the mistake has been to make withdrawals from the account without replenishing it with meaningful deposits.

He said a better Malawi cannot be achieved for all without protecting woods and forests that sustain the rain cycle that waters crops every year.

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“When we say that our destiny is ‘Malawi watsopano wokomera tonse’, we mean a Malawi where every home has clean tap water for washing clothes, bathing, cooking and irrigation.

“But we cannot reach this destiny without stopping the pollution of the rivers that make our access to clean water possible. We cannot reach this destiny without making water conservation as daily as water consumption,” Chakwera said.

He added that no nation can keep its date with destiny without settling its debt with nature.

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The President also said his administration is putting together a task force that will coordinate efforts to address environmental issues in a multi-sectoral approach and aim for specific targets within a specific timeframe.

The task force, according to Chakwera, will include experts who specialise in issues of water management, natural resource management, environmental management, climate change, mining, local government, and financing, so that partnerships underpin all the country’s efforts.

Chakwera said it is sad to note that Malawi is losing forest cover at an alarming rate of about 32,000 hectares every year.

He said the major driver of the loss is tree cutting for charcoal and firewood.

“To address this problem, my administration will be scaling up uses of alternative renewable energy sources. We will be promoting the development and adoption of alternative cooking energies such as briquettes, biogas and Liquid Petroleum Gas as well as the growing of bamboos and fast-growing trees for sustainable charcoal production…

“But I want to issue a warning. Those of you in the business of encouraging the degradation of the forests through the illegal cutting down of trees for charcoal and fuel wood will face the law. I call on the private sector to play a key role in the restoration and management of our forest resources, as well as the creation of employment and foreign earnings through increased timber exports,” Chakwera said.

He challenged every Malawian to play a critical part during this year’s National Forestry Season which begins on December 15.

Association of Environmental Journalists Secretary-General, Charles Mkoka, said it was encouraging to note that the President has chosen to play a critical role in conserving the environment.

Mkoka said it is critical for Malawi to invest significant resources in alternative sources of energy such as briquettes and gas so that Malawians stop cutting down trees carelessly.

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