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The Msanzala River in Petauke, like other rivers in Eastern province, is drying up due to deforestation, leading to increased siltation. Deforestation is mostly caused by cutting down of trees for charcoal production and brick making.
Petauke District Land Alliance was established in 2007. It helps communities secure land, conserve natural resources and manage them. So far, it has ensured that 8,000 people have received land title. However, since noting the current trends in deforestation that are affecting deforestation and natural habitats, it is also strengthening structures of forestry and wildlife protection, by supporting communities to identify forests that can be protected, and ensuring that these are registered.
The alliance also trains communities about forest management and alternatives to charcoal production, such as beekeeping. It is working with Community Resources Boards (CRB), Village Action Groups (VAG), and Community Welfare Assistance Committees (CWAC), Indunas (traditional leaders), headmen and headwomen to raise awareness about the effects of deforestation, its effects on rivers and trying to ensure that there is a change in mindset, so that rivers are secured, for people and nature.
With support from WWF and the Zambia Governance Foundation, Petauke District Land Alliance is currently working with 20 villages, whose capacity is being built on safe water management, and entrepreneurship skills that will enhance the communities’ employment opportunities. Additionally, it has been involved in securing land title for community members.
The outcome has been a strengthened governance system of land and natural resources, with communities now managing their forests as a result of participating in the human settlement mapping exercises. Furthermore, community members have been issued with land certificates, which has made it easier for them to protect their fields from encroachment and deforestation. There has also been a reduction in people cutting trees along the river banks, as anyone found doing this is reported to the headman and fined.
By Nchimunya K Banda/WWF