Malawi Institute of Journalism (MIJ) students, Lilongwe campus, last week Saturday took time off their books and went on a tree planting campaign at Chembe village in the eastern district of Mangochi.
The students joined different stakeholders advocating tree planting exercise as a way of addressing some of the environmental challenges facing Malawi, which seeks to ensure Millennium Development Goal 7 on environmental sustainability by the year 2015.
According to Eneah Kadzanja, President of the MIJ Students Union, the purpose of the activity was to raise awareness on climate change issues and avert its effects particularly in the area of Group Village Head (GVH) Chembe.
“As students we realize that our participation in issues concerning the environment is on the better stand to bring impact in the societies and the country at large,” said Kadzanja.
Speaking in an interview e, Kadzanja pointed out that the students’ environmental trip to Mangochi was a milestone. He said the exercise was one of the many environmental activities the institution had lined up.
Before the planting session, the students together with members of the community and the Lake Malawi National Park officials caught up in environmental sustainable discussions at Cape Maclear Primary School.
During the meeting, members of the community were sensitized on the dangers of unnecessary cutting down of trees and the importance of conserving the forests.
It was however noted that there was no cordial relationship between the villagers and the authorities.
GVH Chembe expressed concern over the punishments which the authorities impose on villagers when they are caught with firewood, saying the fines charged are exorbitant.
Chembe further stressed that apart from imposing such fines, sometimes the Lake Malawi National Park officials resort to beating up the villagers or taking them to police before consulting the chiefs, a development which she said has contributed to a sour relationship between the communities and the authorities.
The chief however admitted that an increase in human activities in the area have led to the destruction of natural resources. She pledged to engage her people to refrain from such activities and follow the rules and regulations set by the National Park.
Commenting on the issue, parks and wildlife assistant at Lake Malawi National Park, Lawrence Sambani said the act of arresting community members symbolize no hatred but a way of disciplining community members.
Department of Wildlife and Parks officer responsible for Environmental Education, Dixie Makwale told the students that being engaged in environmental awareness activities is really an act that should be shared with others and he saluted them for their commitment.
“Engaging yourself in an environmental awareness activity is really an act that should be shared with others, I hope everyone will do the same and create clean and green environment for the future generation,” he said.
Before the trip to Mangochi, the students have been to Nkhatabay where they also tackled environmental issues; reflecting, promoting and educating communities on issues of wildlife conservation, environmental management and tourism.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :