The World Heritage Center has asked Malawi government to withdraw oil exploration in Lake Malawi, protesting the decision to grant an exploration concession at a world heritage site, the Lake Malawi National Park.
In a letter dated July 29, 2016 sent through Malawi Charge de affairs in Brussles, Belgium Joseph Chiteyeye, the Director of World Heritage Center Machtild Rossler reiterated concerns over oil exploration activities on Lake Malawi National Park which is a world heritage site.
The letter is copied to UN through its agency UNESCO and demanded government to cancel the contract and asked Malawi to re-affirm its commitment to preserve the heritage site.
Malawi which ranks lowly in most human development and economic indicators, eyes the oil, gas and mining sector as an alternative to the dying green gold, tobacco—the major forex earner.
Environmental rights cctivist Godfrey Mfiti Director of Institute of Sustainable Development (ISD) said his organisation believe that “Lake Malawi National Park has to be protected and the entire oil exploration activities in Lake Malawi be withdrawn.”
Mfiti told Nyasa Times: “The Conservation efforts of Lake Malawi National Park cannot be compatible with oil exploration as it threatens the Outstanding Universal Values of Lake Malawi.
“ It is very clear from the World Heritage Convention that Lake Malawi is bound to lose its source of cichlids. The Lake boast about over a thousand cichlids where three hundred are unique to Malawi. Malawian ordinary citizens will be great losers should the oil exploration continue since this is a source of protein for many Malawians in rural and urban areas.”
Malawi government is a signatory to the World Heritage Convention which it ratified in 1984.It agreed to ensure Lake Malawi National Park is protected as a world heritage site.
According to activist Mfiti, the oil exploration will also affect the quality of drinking water from the lake at a time when the country is struggling to provide drinking water to its citizenry in major cities of Blantyre and Lilongwe.
At the same time the rural communities in most district of Malawi lack safe and clean drinking water.
Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Bright Msaka, asked for time before he comments on the matter.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :