Senior citizens volunteer to plant trees on tree-depleted Ndirande mountain

Over 60 senior citizens in Ndirande heeded a call from a group of concerned youths, trending as Community Impact Group, to volunteer to plant trees on Friday on the depleted Ndirande Mountain landscape.

And over 1,000 pine trees were planted by the volunteers and since they were disrupted by rains, they agreed to resume the task on Monday.

Of late, rains are falling at a furious rate in Blantyre and communities below it are negatively affected with strong flow of water from uphill — cascaded by the bare mountain itself.

Thus the senior citizens heeded the call to plant trees to control excess rainfall water flow towards their households, which poses serious social challenges each and every year.

The senior citizens just before starting off for the exercise

The Ndirande Community Impact Group — which is inculcating proper waste management by converting it into compost fertilizer — took their campaign to another level by breeding tree seedlings at their site at the foot of the mountain to replenish the bare landscape.

The compost fertilizer being produced is targeted at community members who farm on the mountain’s bare land and the group approached them to also practice agroforestry.

These farmers provide dry maize stocks to the Impact Group to build on the organic waste, which is collected from community members after piling it at their households to them to recycle it into compost fertilizer.

Most of the senior citizen volunteers are farmers on the bare land of the mountain and are benefitting from the compost fertilizer being manufactured by the Impact Group.

In November, having been greatly concerned with rampant careless disposal of waste in Ndirande — that had potential to amplify the cholera outbreak in the area as well as the whole Blantyre City as the rainy season was picking up — the same senior citizens also headed Community Impact Group call for hands-on clearing of worrisome trash.

The most affected area was along the road to Ndirande Mountain — close to Malawi Housing Corporation (MHC) neighbourhood, popularly known as Malaysia and one of the directors Nephtalie Lemon said they saw that the site was an eyesore and needed to do something about it as a matter of urgency to avoid escalating the cholera outbreak.

“Since we work in liaison with farmers on the mountain to reafforest the bare mountain, it was a pleasure to us when they agreed to get involved for hands-on cleaning exercise,” he had said.

After the tree planting exercise, Lemon reiterated they are so humbled with the positive and enthusiastic response from the senior citizens, encouraged by the community traditional chiefs.

Distressed that the residents of Malabada Constituency are disposing their household waste anyhow in open spaces — while markets garbage keep piling up due to failure by the Blantyre City Council to collect the waste — the group initiated the waste management campaign.

The plentiful nursery

They got trained of this compost fertilizer expertise by Waste Advisors organisation and they were equipped with industrial gloves, gumboots, drums, a wheelbarrow, digging fork, slashers as their starter pack.

Established in 2021 under the theme: ‘Cleaning and Greening’,  the Community Impact Group of 14-plus volunteers, comprises youths who are employed while others are in school — doing all this in their free time and in shifts.

They have combined waste management and green initiative by planting trees on the mountain — once famous for a rich cover of trees but now completely laid bare.

All this initiative is purely voluntary working as the group members contribute funds from their pockets every month to financially sustain the project and they appeal for support, both financial for costs of collection of waste and equipment.

The starter pack equipment that Waste Advisors provided has lasted their lifespan and they are still lacking in finances to procure protective materials such as face masks, work suits, gloves, watering cans and work suits.

The funds they raise from group contributions cater for transportation of trash from the households and marketplace but it is not sustainable since just a few of them are employed and the rest are school students.

Another Director, Gift Landani says it is their wish to increase collection of more trash but finances hinder their appetite in waste management — and thus asks stakeholders to come to their assistance, especially now in the National Forestry Season.

Each of the participants was given a seedling to plant at their homesteads to encourage that replenishing trees should be inculcated towards conservation of nature and also to inspire our households to emulate the example.

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