17 Feb

Deforestation Creating a Crisis in Murewa

Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda

Deforestation in Murewa

Deforestation in Murewa

We had a collective moment of mourning today. It was almost an outburst the people from Murewa virtually engaged, analysed and lamented on the scale and magnitude of deforestation on social media. It was a simple photo I took a year back in Magaya, that triggered the outpouring. The place could be have been kwa Dandara, Chitowa, Chemapango, Maponongwe or Mutize, anywhere in Murewa.

All the forests are gone. It’s a struggle to get firewood. It’s just difficult for those who have no fence and use logs and shrubs to fence of their gardens, and protect the vegetables from roaming goats and cattle. All the indigenous fruit trees like matamba, hacha, nhengeni and even mazhanje are becoming a rarity.

Now we understand even much more the link between alternative energy sources; protection of the environment, and poverty. We understand these are key elements of what is called sustainable development!

In analysing the deforestation in Murewa, the following reasons were advanced as causing this sorry state of affairs:

  1. Fuel for daily household consumption. This is firewood for cooking or for brewing traditional brew. There is no electricity or any other energy source. People have no choice at all at all, and yet the family must eat every day, three times if food is available. Saka tobika nei?
  2. Tobacco growing has increased in the district, and loads and loads of firewood is used for curing the golden leaf. It’s a fast cash crop that is more and more replacing maize. The farmers have no money to buy coal nor use any other technology as an alternative. Now all the big trees that had remained are facing the axe. Demo rapedza masango.
  3. Brick making. Well, when people are just so poor they look for all kinds of projects to make a living. Brickmaking is a fairly lucrative business though it can be seasonal in Murewa. All the same, the kiln burns logs and logs. In the process more trees again face the axe with no replacement.
  4. Land pressure with increased population. It was a big point raised that the population is increasing and at times vana Sabhuku are receiving and settling in families in already over populated villages. The land pressure increases, more gardens, more firewood is needed, more brickmaking kilns and maybe more tobacco farmers.

In all it was a clear combination of poverty, lack of alternative energy sources and appropriate management of the natural resources. Well, solutions are at hand. It’s doable to take small steps as household level and by individuals and schools to again replenish the lost trees; such as communal tree planting, family plots and orchard etc.

Beyond environmental awareness and community action, it was also clear that there has to be some national and policy level interventions and resourcing if this situation is to be arrested before it is a national catastrophe.

Our Murewa debate and experiences, just reminded me in so many ways why sustainable development is critical to the on-going debates on the post 2015 development agenda. My mind went to the many women and girls, in Murewa including my own experience growing up in Magaya village. I need not say, why a clear commitment to gender equality in development is important and especially an investment in young people.

I acknowledge the contributions and views from: Chido Mubika; Tambu Marimo; Lawrence Chikwanha; Robson Chiwara; Margret Chibanda; Patricia Douglas; Tendai Manyange; Lawrence Madzimbamuto; Dialogue Kubvoruno and Gloria Linda Chiweshe.

15 Feb

South Sudanese Women Bring Their Voice to IGAD and the African Union

Meting with IGAD Mediator Amb. S. Mesfin

Meting with IGAD Mediator Amb. S. Mesfin

Statement From South Sudanese Women To The African Union (AU) And Inter- Governmental Authority On Development (IGAD)

24 January 2014, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

 We are concerned by the recent outbreak of armed conflict in South Sudan, and are shocked by the wide spread violence that led to numerous loss of lives and displacement of women, men and children. Therefore, on the 20th of December 2013 women of South Sudan met various leaders to urge for peace and took a decision to hold a national meeting for women. On the 15th January 2014, South Sudan women from all walks of life gathered at Juba Grand Hotel in Juba, to discuss the current crisis in the country. South Sudanese women in Nairobi Kenya held similar meetings on the 17th January 2014 and in Kampala Uganda on 19th January 2014. We finally converged on the 24th January under the Gender is My Agenda Campaign (GIMAC) meeting at the margins of the Heads of State meeting in Addis Ababa, to share our experiences and bring the different voices of women of South Sudan together.

We are also concerned about the manipulation and involvement of youths in the ongoing conflict; and demand that the parties to the conflict desist from this approach that is exploiting the young people of our country, especially young women and girls.

We recognize the historic participation of women in the Sudan Comprehensive Peace Agreement; and the role they played during the 2011 South Sudan referendum for independence. We the women of South Sudan are committed to continuously defend the peace and all that have been achieved since the signing of the CPA.

We acknowledge the commitment of those who signed the cessation of hostilities agreement on the 23 January 2014 in Addis Ababa. We believe that we are heading in the right direction towards attaining a lasting peace in South Sudan. However, we also acknowledge that this is the beginning of a difficult part of the peace process and the inclusion of women and their full participation in the process of negotiation and mediation is a prerequisite for both the success of this process and sustainable peace in South Sudan.

Based on the above, we the women of South Sudan call on the African Union and the Iinter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD):

  • To urge the parties to the conflict not to breach the cessation of hostilities agreement.
  • To commit to women’s participation in the next phase of the political negotiations and provide all necessary support.
  • To provide protection for displaced women, women at the negotiation and women who advocate for peace.

We call on our sisters in the African continent to continue to support our cause and all actors to respond to the plea of South Sudanese women.

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