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World Earth Day - Malawi, Usa Drums Support For Giant Bamboo Upscaling

LLONGWE, Malawi, 25th April, 2021 (AEJ) - United States Ambassador to Malawi Robert Scott on World Earth Day extended the good gesture by American people to partner with Ministry of Forestry and Natural Resources in the promoting of giant bamboo, a non - invasive species as an alternative and regenerative energy source.

Scott together with Minister of Forestry of Natural Resources Nancy Tembo planted the giant bamboo at Area 25 Health Centre, a model facility where permaculture is being spearheaded as a symbolic gesture of restoring nature in an ecosystem.

Ministry of Health partnered with Baylor College of Medicine to ensure both food and nutritional security and other environmental benefits are sustained to expectant mothers. In turn, the women learn lessons to practice home gardens when they return home.

Giant bamboo is one of the fastest growing species on earth, and can generate up to 300 kgs of fuelwood or timber annually for lifespan of up to 120 years. A single seedling therefore, can provide a generative source of sustainable fuel for households.

Tembo and Scott in a symbolic greeting of enhanced partnership after planting giant bamboo

As human population continues to grow, trees and forests are cleared to make room for cities and food production, we are changing the climate, making weather patterns more erratic and increasing the risk of severe weather events such as droughts and floods. This is why this Earth Day; the whole world is focused on restoring our planet.

“The US government through USAID introduced a species of bamboo in 2018 called the giant bamboo. This was meant to address the key driver of deforestation leading to demand for firewood and charcoal which 9 out of 10 households in Malawi use as primary fuel sources,” Scott explained to the participants that graced the occasion.

In her remarks after touring the initiative, Tembo highlighted that the symbolic planting of the bamboos is a manifestation of the Ministry's commitment to "healing the earth", the theme of this years World Earth Day, using giant bamboo as a candidate species for landscape restoration and improved livelihoods.

“Mothers that deliver at the facility are given a giant bamboo seedling and a fruit seedling on discharge to plant at home. Together with the American Ambasador, we handed over take-home seedling packs to mothers who were discharged,” explained Tembo after the event.

Tembo waters the bamboo seedling after planting

Scott and Tembo corroborated it was a marvel to visit the facility. The organically grown vegetables are used to provide nutritious food to patients and expecting mothers. They even process and serve soya milk to the mothers, she added.

A picture was painted on the need for improved integration between human and environmental health and what better a place than our very own health centre to demonstrate that, passionate permaculture advocate Afshan Omar who heads the initiative said.

“Our incredible team, was given a chance to show what integrated healthcare in Malawi can look like, how an improved external environment is beneficial to a patients well-being, how education leads towards skill development at home, and of course numerous connections to quality of life, nutrition, fuelwood use, the way in which food is grown, how a patient can be cared for and the list goes on...” Omar who champions the initiative summed it up.

Scott commended Malawi government through AFR100 initiative for the commitment to restore 4.5 million hectares of degraded areas by 2030. Of this, 114,000 hectares will be planted with the giant bamboo species to protect indigenous forest and restore degraded areas.

Some of the institutions that have partnered in the programme and provided support include the Agriculture Diversification programme under Feed the Future, Agricultural Transformation Initiative and Children’s Foundation.

Scott captured at the site he planted the bamboo seedling

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About the Author
Charles Mkoka
Charles Mkoka is Secretary General of the Association of Environmental Journalists. He is also Lead Partner for Ecosystems Partners, a privately owned firm he set up in 2015. He is a regular contributor of AEJ News and one of the editorial crew behind content gathering and production.



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