Government on Monday launched a 1.4 million euro (about K670 million) project aimed at improving forest management for sustainable livelihoods in the country.
Speaking during the launch, principal secretary for energy services in the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining Kester Kaphaizi said government has noted that deforestation is taking place rapidly hence the need to take the project on board.
Said Kaphaizi: “Thirteen million hectares of forest are lost each year and the deforestation rate in Malawi is currently at 2.8 percent. It is fourth in the world, second in Africa and first in the Southern Africa Development Community [Sadc] region, therefore the programme will help to solve deforestation challenges.”
The three-year project, which seeks to “empower forest dependent communities through commercialisation of small-scale forestry”, will be implemented in six districts of Karonga, Mzimba, Chikwawa, Kasungu, Dedza and Ntchisi.
In his remarks, head of cooperation in the EU delegation Luis Navarro said his organisation is concerned about recent studies which reveal that annual forest loss in the country is between 30 and 40 hectares, a situation he said requires better forest governance.
Said Navarro: “The EU has supported Government of Malawi’s capacity building initiative at all levels. Despite this, it is still shocking to see the rate at which forests are disappearing in the country.
Regional coordinator for Acrisaf, which is the implementing organisation for the project, Jeremias Mowo, said government should encourage community management of forest resources so it is done on sustainable basis.
EU is meeting 85 percent of the total budget while Acrisaf and WVM will contribute 12 percent and three percent, respectively.