Shire Basin Management Project, a Government of Malawi initiative aimed at conserving the environment along the Shire River, appealed for locals in Chileka Blantyre to lead in managing heavy siltation and massive environmental degradation happening across Shire River catchment area.
The call was made by Blantyre District Forestry Officer, Geoffrey Kanyerere, on Friday during a handover ceremony of 72 bicycles worth K2.9 million to villagers in Senior Chief Kunthembwe’s area to help in monitoring environmental conservation activities in the area.
This comes when the Shire River is reported to have low water levels that have affected the generation of electricity and has subjected the country to massive blackouts.
Speaking on behalf of Shire River Basin Management officials, Kanyerere lamented the massive depletion of natural resources along the Shire River that is having a bearing on the generation of electricity in the country.
“Shire River is the sole generator of the country’s electricity. It is crucial that the locals along the Shire catchment area be equipped to help in restoring the environment. As a council, we don’t have enough extension workers and we are giving these bicycles to the project implementation committees for them to go round the villages to facilitate the environmental management work,” Kanyerere said.
Receiving the bicycles on behalf of the committees, Ndamila James, disclosed that women in Chileka, who are worst affected by the massive degradation of the environment in the area, have embraced the Shire River Management Project and as such, the bicycles will help them carry surveillance in all the areas.
“Our committees travel to supervise how the locals are managing the Shire catchment area and, as such the bicycles will help us reach out to all areas most of which are distant,’’ James said.
Senior Chief Kunthembwe, who patronised the event, challenged his subjects to use the bicycles for the intended purpose.
“These bicycles are not meant for kabaza or trafficking charcoal from rural areas to townships. Therefore, it is imperative that the committees use the bicycles in the activities that are aimed at restoring the Shire River Basin,” Kunthembwe said.
The Shire River Basin Management Programme was established in 2012 under the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development in order to combat environmental degradation caused by natural resource exploitation by communities living in the Shire River catchment area.
The project, among others, involves the communities in the conservation of nature, preparation of tree nurseries, planting more trees in deforested areas and preventing soil degradation in their gardens and along steep slopes by constructing check dams.
It also provides loans to locals in order to boost their economic capacity and reduce their dependency on natural resources for live hood.
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