From Mangochi Boma 30km to the South East lies Chembe Village, Traditional Authority (T.A) Chowe one of the areas in which Malawi Lake Basin Program (MLBP) is implementing a poverty alleviation project in the district.
It had rained heavily two days before and the some sections of the road were very muddy and waterlogged making access almost impossible.
Upon arrival after negotiating the some difficult courses a lush of luxuriant green forest stretching one and half hectares of land cannot go unnoticed.
This was not the same story four years ago as the land was almost bare due to deforestation and efforts to restore were not successful as the planted trees failed to survive.
According to statistics the average survival rate of planted trees is at 60 percent but Chembe villagers’ efforts were in vain as exotic trees had almost zero survival rate.
This left the community of the Tikondane club with more questions than answers on how they could dress the bare land with vegetative cover.
Group Village Headman Chowe said with the guidance of MLBP the puzzle of dealing with poor survival of the trees was solved naturally.
They just let the natural trees which once covered the area to grow through a process called natural tree regeneration.
“After noticing that forest has gone we made initiatives to replant unfortunately it did not work out as the trees acacias planted died only one survived,” said Chowe.
“But in 2014 Malawi Lake Basin Program called chiefs to mobilise people in the area to start the regeneration of the forest,” he added.
Barely four years after the initiative the impact of the project has already have registered tremendous results with a team of 18 peopled comprising 15 women and three men.
This is a result of MLBP incepted in 2006 by six consortium members; three Malawian member based organizations, namely Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM), National Smallholder Farmers’ Association of Malawi (NASFAM) and Malawi Union of Savings and Credit Co-operatives (MUSCCO) as well as those from Sweden; We Effect and Vi-Agro forestry.
The consortium works directly in two districts namely; Salima and Mangochi and indirectly in all districts in Malawi.
Currently, the consortium implements the MLBP III with funding from the Royal Norwegian Embassy. MLBP III which started in 2014 and runs up to 2019.
Malawi Lake Basin Consortium (MLBC) applies a human rights-based approach in its development programmes, assisting people living in poverty to secure their rights and entitlement to adequate living conditions and broad empowerment.
MLBC targets women in partner organizations to secure them the same rights and entitlements as men, especially to own and control land and access to financial resources.
The core strategy is to strengthen cooperatives of women and men living in poverty through membership-based democracy.
Since 2016 till 2018, the program has reached 31,577 of which 75 percent are women with key stakeholders including line ministries, town councils, civil society organization (CSOs), local leaders and communities at large
The initiative therefore applies a human rights-based approach in its development program, assisting people living in poverty to secure their rights and entitlement to adequate living conditions and broad empowerment.
The regeneration of the trees Chembe village in Mangochi caught the attention of Non Governmental Organization, CCJP and Emmanuel International with similar objectives of reducing poverty by empowering the local community to use natural resources.
Tikondane Club chairperson Asiyatu James said due to the initiative many players had been attracted to assist them sustain the project while ensuring that livelihoods would improve for the better.
“Some NGOs have already started helping us because of the forest such as Catholic Commission Justice and Peace (CCJP) which has provided five beehives while Emmanuel International has offered food for work for the community to clear more land to grow natural trees and take care of the regenerated ones,” said Tikondane club chairperson Asiyatu James.
Asiyatu added that the club set up by-laws to deter people from cutting down trees ranging from MK10, 000 to MK15, 000 which has so far done the trick.
“The bylaws are really helping us as people in the village cannot easily get MK10, 000 or MK15, 000 to pay the fine just because they have cut trees,” she said.
Principal Environment Officer in the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining Boniface Chimwaza urges local communities to embrace regeneration of trees as the survival rate of trees planted faces challenges due to climate change.
Chimwaza said regeneration was one of adaptive measures to withstand the impact of climate change and vulnerability for trees to survive with the variation of rainfall patterns being experienced.
“It’s a good initiative as people said that they tried to plant trees but they did not survive. When we promote regeneration trees survive as we can see because they are in their natural environment,” Chimwaza said.
When healing offers lush for barren areas, it brings hope to all the habitat including human beings. This is the case of natural regeneration which must be embraced