"Economic Empowerment to Charcoal Producers Key" Says NGO
A Non-governmental Organisation Multi Consult Africa says the country will continue losing its trees to charcoal unless the producing communities are economically empowered.
This is according to the Organizations Conserve with Benefits project Team Leader Collins Mitochi who was in Salima at a tree planting exercise at Chagunda a charcoal-producing community near Thuma forest.
Mitochi says bylaws and other measures are proving futile in addressing the high levels of deforestation due to the charcoal business, but economic empowerment would be key.
"We have trained young people in this community and we gave them beehives and also we helped them with mushroom production skills so that they can stay away from the charcoal business, hence thought we must also initiate tree planting," said Mitochi.
Secretary for Chagunda youth organization beneficiaries of the bee and mushroom farming initiative Sarah Mbewe told Zodiak online that the mindset of people in the area is slowly changing having seen the benefits from the forest other than cutting down trees.
"I can testify that our lives are changing we have started selling the mushroom and soon we will have honey ready, and we intend in future to have our beehives hanging in the woodlot we are setting up," she said.
Meanwhile group village headman Chagunda says government and other stakeholders should consider promoting such initiatives that would divert community members from deforestation for charcoal rather make good use of the forest through bee keeping business.
"These young people would have grown knowing charcoal business as their only source of income, but giving them beehives and the mushroom production they are doing will surely change everything here," GVH Chagunda said.
Most of the charcoal in Salima district is produced in Chagunda area where people encroach into Thuma forest.