Charcoal burning-the eco-system under threat

By Zione James

Charcoal burning is the only and an opted income generating activity for most people of Group Village Headman Chipamba and surrounding areas in the outskirts of Liwonde township in Machinga.

Chipamba is one of the blessed communities in hills and mountains but the blessing is being overlooked day in- day out.

People around this area take charcoal burning as a source of income, little to their knowledge does they realize that the practice has a greater negative impact on the environment and indeed the eco-system including human lives.

Every time a tree falls, it adds to the ever increasing bare land. Without trees, the rains erode the soil, no shade for many animals, reduced oxygen production and insects that help the ecological cycle. A bare land runs out water faster than a covered land. In the process, due to lack of trees, eventually the rains processing becomes so challenging and in the long ran the rains stop. We can go on and on disapproving the notion of deforestation.

Forestry officials in the area are well aware of the problem and assured this community volunteer that they are doing their best restraining people from the malpractice by confiscating charcoal and sometimes reporting charcoal burners to the Police, but all the efforts are still proving to be futile simply because the state machinery has been reactive to charcoal burning and lacks strategic engagement to ensure the communities are economically empowered through other entrepreneurial skills than charcoal burning.

A charcoal burner (name withheld), said she is well aware that charcoal burning has a hand in degrading land and causing soil erosion but it is a very cheap way of sourcing income, adding that it will be difficult for her to stop the act because that is her only means of survival.

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