ShareWORLD Open University of Malawi (SOUM) says collaboration between institutions of higher learning and communities in tree-planting initiatives is crucial in Malawi’s aspiration to reverse deforestation and adverse effects of climate change.
SOUM Head of the Department of Conservation and Rural Development, William Nkhunga, emphasized that a partnership between universities and communities would enable the two parties to leverage their expertise and make significant advancements in the fight against the climate crisis.
Nkhunga made the remarks in Chakwawa Village in Traditional Authority (T/A) Kalumbu in Lilongwe when the university led community members in planting 1, 000 trees.
Studies have shown that forested land in Malawi continues to face undue pressure due to high population growth, rising consumption rates for firewood, timber and non-timber products, unsustainable harvesting and economic development policies that promote expansion agriculture into marginal lands.
As a consequence, deforestation has increased at an alarming rate while the continued loss of forests continues to not only threaten livelihoods, but also the environment.
Nkhunga therefore said collaborative forest rehabilitation efforts are the right way to address the problem.
“But that cannot be done by governments and the private sector alone. School-based reforestation initiatives are an important way for students, teachers, and communities to make tangible contributions to climate change mitigation efforts,” he said.
Nkhunga announced that SOUM has since adopted Chakwawa Village as a ground for learning practical skills for students in Conservation and Rural Development. He said this entails that students will be regularly planting trees and monitoring their growth.
“We believe this will significantly contribute towards reforestation initiative in this area,” he narrated.
The National Coordinator of the National Youth Network on Climate Change (NYNCC), Dominic Nyasulu, said institutions of higher learning have a critical role in mobilizing students and communities in addressing impacts of climate change in the country.
Nyasulu, who was the Guest of Honour at the event, therefore commended SOUM for partnering with the people of Chakwawa Village in the tree-planting exercise.
Senior Group Village Head (SGVH) Mwatibu thanked the university for choosing his area.
“This partnership will benefit us more than they will benefit from it. So, we are very happy and we pledge our commitment to working with them,” said Mwatibu.