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  • Christine Chumbler
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 9, 2002
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      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
      Malawi, a
      organization committed
      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
      Standards (WURCS).

      As part of the project, the ICCE has assisted in capacity building for
      conservation publications and has supplied computers for
      conservation education.

      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
      forestry component
      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,
      email: news@...)

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