People who took part in the Enhanced Public Works Programme (EPWP) in Balaka have pledged to continue with afforestation and other land conservation activities.
The pledge comes after the World Bank-funded programme comes to an end.
Government, through the National Local Government Finance Committee piloted the EPWP from September 2020 to April 2021.
The EPWP included activities such as afforestation, conservation agriculture, water and soil conservation in Malukula, Zalimu, Mtumbwe, Toleza and Chimpakati in the district.
In an interview, the EPWP beneficiaries in the five catchment areas said they will sustain the activities for their own good.
Mailosi Maliro from Toleza Catchment Area said they will continue to take care of the village forests initiated by the project.
“The programme has empowered us. We learned to construct stone bands on hill slopes to halt run-off,” he said.
Maliro said some people have acquired assets such as bicycles through the programme.
Malukula Catchment Area extension worker McDonald Mukasho said the catchment management committee and people will meet to develop an action plan that will help to move forward.
On his part, Mtumbwe Catchment extension worker Enock Bonongwe said they will apply the knowledge they gained from the project to continue taking care of the forests.
“We agreed to construct a barrier to protect trees that we planted,” he said.
Bonongwe said beneficiaries will continue working three days a week while non-beneficiaries will work two days to sustain the gains.
The EPWP was implemented in Balaka, Phalombe, Chiradzulu, Blantyre, Nkhotakota, Lilongwe, Kasungu, Dowa, Chitipa and Karonga districts.