Chilonga cluster is one of the communities that have geared to restore soil fertility and reverse adverse impacts of climate change by planting more trees and enhancing community mobilization in its drive.
Talking to the people there, one could easily tell that they are driven by passion and a realization that no one else can do it for them and so far, they say, they have already started seeing the fruits that their efforts are bearing.
“We used to be one of the districts where we had erratic rainfall each year and this resulted to poor yields and in turn, we would not have enough food to feed our families. Since the time we decided to plant trees, we have seen that the rainfall pattern has changed and we receive good rains each year,” says 23 year old Sarah Kazembe who is a committee member.
The community mobilized itself after noticing that it is their responsibility to bring back the lost glory of the area by planting more trees. Women also said the cutting down of trees forced them to travel long distances to fetch firewood for cooking.
The Malawi Lake Basin, in 2017, came in with expertise to help the community find ways of conserving the environment and mitigate the effects of climate change.
According to Zasintha Namagonya who is Field Coordinator for Mangochi says the community was drilled on tree planting and regenerating, provision of tree seedlings and establishment of woodlots.
“The community can testify on how this has helped them and we have a target of 5 years in seeing tremendous improvement of rainfall patterns and availability of foods.
One of the community members Binnet Uka says the communities also engage in planting vetivar grass (a hedge that prevents soil erosion) which is imperative for soil conservation as it holds the soil and prevents washing away the soil by running water.
“We are taught that planting trees alone is not enough when it comes to soil conservation. When we plant vetivar, we are sure of protection from running water that washes away soil nutrients that are essential for a good harvest,” said Uka.
People of Chilonga now have established woodlots and planted many trees to help improve rainfall in the area.