It was an exciting week for our reforestation project, which saw the planting of our seedlings we have been growing to halt the levels of deforestation in Sangilo.
Deforestation is a major environmental threat, not only in Sangilo Village, but throughout the whole of Malawi. High rates of deforestation can lead to desertification, a process that occurs when a landscape is stripped of much of its vegetation, causing a decrease in the amount of nutrients held in the soil and high rates of soil erosion. This process of land degradation has long term severe economic and social consequences as the land becomes increasingly difficult to farm and crop yields decrease. Despite such devastating effects the issue has been exacerbated in recent years through population increase, which has intensified agricultural practices and increased the use of firewood.
With deforestation being such a real and growing issue facing the population of Sangilo, D2D decided to implement a project tackling this problem in our local area. This cycle of the reforestation project started back in July when a small team of both British and Malawian volunteers (under the UK government funded scheme International Citizen Service) built a plant nursery at Maji Zuwa and started planting and caring for a variety of seeds. Since then we have been caring for the seedlings daily to ensure they grow successfully. Despite the challenges along the way, such as the local chickens climbing over the wall and eating many of the seedlings, we managed to successfully grow over 600 seedlings!
We spilt these seedlings between Maji Zuwa, where many of our sponsored youth live and gather as a place to study and socialize after school and during the weekends, and Sangilo primary school. In order to make the project a success and we asked a representative from the Malawi Forestry Commission to visit the primary school and hold an assembly, explaining the importance of reforestation and the devastation that cutting down trees can have on the environment. The children seemed extremely engaged and very excited to hear that the Forestry Commission had entered the school into a competition, being held for all primary schools in the district which had planted seedlings. The winning schools shall be those who successfully take care of their seedlings.
Prior to the planting we had agreed with the Head Mistress that the children from Standards 5, 6, 7, and 8 would each care for an individual plant. The children had each taken an afternoon to dig individual holes for their seedlings and brought manure from them homes to place into the dugout wholes and act as a natural fertilizer, encouraging the seedlings to adapt to the new environment. Taking such ownership over their own seedling should encourage the children to water them on those days that we have no rainfall.
It was great to see the children so engaged with the project and our collective work over the past eight months come to fruition.
Declan Sharkey 13th February 2015 Malawi, Africa
Tawonga chomene (We thank you)