- Sorry for the multiple messages. I just got this article from the author, who was someone Deb and I worked with at Michiru. Go Charles! There are photos if you go to the website listed below.
WURCS Works To Help Malawi Villages Help
By Charles Mkoka
Youth Environmental News Desk
BLANTYRE, Malawi, April 1, 2002, (ENS) - It is six in the morning at
Cape Maclear on the Nam'kumba peninsula jutting into the southern
end of Lake Malawi.Waking from a deep slumber, the first thing you
hear are the boat engines of fishermen returning to land after a
night's work on the lake.
These full time fishermen earn
a living, and some have pulled
a fortune, from the lake that
runs the length of this
southeast African country.
They talk of houses,
restaurants, and even
vehicles. Some of the stories
you hear on a visit to the
area make you want to try
your luck. But fishing needs
expertise and an initial
investment of capital resources.
The beautiful scenery along the lake attracts foreign visitors with
their much needed foreign currency, especially to villages like Chembe
in the area of traditional authority on the peninsula. Some of the
foreigners have opted to get married to natives. Most of the natives
have not finished their education, but their interaction with foreigners
has allowed them to learn English, making communication easier.
There has been a loud
outcry against the
Western style brought
into the traditional area
by the visitors, which
has made the local
people lose their
cultural touch. The
younger generation has
been indulging in unbecoming behavior such as drug use.
The Lake Malawi National Park, covering an area of 88 square
kilometers (34 square miles), includes the Khumba Peninsula, a
portion of Lake Malawi and 12 islands. It is dotted with enclave
villages such as Chembe.
Lake Malawi, the only fresh water national park in the country, is
known to the world for its enormous variety of fishes. Five hundred
to 1,000 different species of fish inhabit the lake, most found
nowhere else on the planet. But the resources of the park have been
plundered, especially the lake waters.
According to the Malawi National Parks Act, the waters within a 100
meter radius of an island remain part of the protected area. The lake
waters around the 12 islands in Lake Malawi National Park act as
breeding grounds for the lake fish, but they have been illegally
invaded by fishermen in violation of the hundred meter zone law.
The Wildlife Society of
to the conservation of
the environment and
natural resources, has embarked on a five year project that aims at
uplifting the living standards of the local people.
The UK based International Center for Conservation Education (ICCE)
funds the five year project, Wildlife Utilization Raises Community
As part of the project, the ICCE has assisted in capacity building for
conservation publications and has supplied computers for
Both public and non-governmental conservation experts have
benefited from WURCS training. Some of the wildlife utilization
activities are beekeeping, guinea fowl farming, rabbitry and small
scale game farming.
In an exclusive interview with William Chadza, head of natural
reources management at the Wildlife Society of Malawi, ENS asked
him the progress the WURCS project has made so far.
"Since the inception of the project," he said, "we have managed to
make headway because four beekeeping clubs have been formed,
though no honey has been harvested yet. On the guinea fowl
farming, progress is registering individual success, not groups."
Rabbit rearing projects are working well, Chadza said. "Thirteen clubs
have so far been instituted and through the project staff, we teach
them good feeding, housing and sheltering methods using agriculture
methods. The idea is to share the rabbits after successful breeding
The project has a
that encourages the
local people to plant
indigenous trees. So
far over indigenous
20,000 trees have
been planted in the
WURCS project area.
The local communities
have been trained to establish nurseries, and 13 nurseries are
awaiting plantings once weather conditions are ideal. In time, the
dependence of local communities on the wood resources within Lake
Malawi National Park is likely to be eased. This will be a milestone in
conservation activities for the area.
Several problems have been identified that hinder the smooth flow of
the WURCS activities in the lake shore district of Mangochi. People
are reluctant to fully participate in project activities, despite the
catch word "participatory" in the conservation project's description.
Participation apathy comes from the fact that most of the people
living in the area are not permanent residents and do not see the
project as benefiting them in the long run. Many have come to get a
share of what they call lake "gold," which is fish. There is an
assumption that they can migrate to new places any time.
The lakeshore communities around the peninsula have recently seen
the influx of several projects of an environmental nature, WURCS
being only one of them. Duplication of activities has been a cause of
concern, especially with regard to donor funds.
Chadza says the WURCS project does not duplicate the efforts of
others. "The project, through its field staff, attends all District
Development Committee meetings which take place at the District
Commissioner's office every month," he says. "During this time the
operations taking place in the district by several organizations are
brought to a spotlight. As a result, the possibility of duplicating
activities is completely screened out."
The Wildlife Society of Malawi wishes
to see the WURCS activities
registering progress and the uplifting
the livelihoods of local communities.
In the future, the society intends to
expand its operations from the Nam'kumba peninsula to other parts of
the country. The areas likely to be targeted are those with good
indigenous trees such as those around the Machinga Forest Reserve
in southern Malawi.
(Charles Mkoka is the winner of the March 2002 contest to publish an
article on the Youth Environmental News Desk. The contest,
co-sponsored by ENS and Horizon International, selects the best
article from a young environmental journalist each month. To enter,