Policy Influence from SFA Membership

SFA Network members have different levels of engagement and influence on policy. Appointments are not necessarily stemming from their direct involvement in the SFA Network but their SFA membership has an impact on their practices, individual networks, etc. and therefore influence their participation and engagement with policy. The list below provide information about individual engagement and potential influence on policy and practice at the local, national, regional & International level (last update 11th March 2021).

Botswana: 

Prof. Olekae Thakadu

  • Board Member | Human Resource Development Council, Sector Research Innovation Science and Technology (National)
  • Board Member | National Community Based Natural Resource Management (National)

Dr Masego Ayo Mpotokwane

  • Board Member | Kgalagadi Conservation Society (National)

Prof. Rebecca Nthogo Lekoko

  • Member of the Governing Council | University of Lesotho (National)
  • Country’s (Botswana) representative | Committee on Doctoral Education in Commonwealth Africa (DECA). (Regional)

Eswatini:

Dr Deepa Pullanikkatil

  • Chairperson of Tourism Recovery Team – Unlocking Climate Change Finance | Ministry of Tourism and Environmental Affairs (National)
  • (Intended) Nationally Determined. Contributions ((I)NDCs) Coordinator | Ministry of Tourism and Environmental Affairs (National)

Dr. Sizwe Mabaso

  • Chairperson of University of Eswatini Waste Management Task Team | University of Eswatini (Local)
  • Vice Chairperson of the 4th National Communication on Greenhouse Gases | Ministry of Tourism and Environmental Affairs (National)

Gcina Isaac Dladla

  • Director of Policy Planing, Research and Information | Eswatini Environment Authority (National)
  • Chairperson of the 4th National Communication on Greenhouse Gases | Ministry of Tourism and Environmental Affairs (National

Russell Dlamini

  • Chief Executive Director National Disaster Management Agency | National Disaster Management Agency (National)

Belusile Mhlanga

  • Environmental Information Officer | Eswatini Environment Authority (National)
  • Vice President of the Regional Centres of Expertise in Africa | Eswatini Environment Authority (National)

Emmanuel Ndlangamandla

  • Executive Director | Coordinating Assembly of Non-Governmental Organisations (National)

Eric Seyama

  • Director Early Warning and Research | National Disaster Management Agency (National)

Malawi:

Moses W Mkandawire

  • Multi-Stakeholder Group on Extrative Industries Initiative (EITI) | Ministry of Finance (National)

Nigeria:

Prof. Sunday Adesola Ajayi

  • Chairman, Governing Board | Oke-Ogun Polytechnic (Local)

Prof. Olusola Georges Ajibade

  • Member, Governing Council | Iresi Polytechnic (Local)

Femi Babatunde 

  • Senior Special Assistant to the Governor | Office of Ministry of Economic Development & Partnerships – Osun State (National)

Priscilla Achakpa

  • Special Advisor (Technical) to the Honorable Minister for State Environment | Federal Ministry of Environment (National)

Uganda: 

Dr. Kevin Aanyu 

  • Board of Directors Member | Petrolium Authority of Uganda (National)

Prof. Charles Masembe

  • Appointed Associate Editor: Frontiers in Genetic/Evolutionary & Population Genetics | Evolutionary and Population Genetics (International)

 


Waste management training manual for primary schools

By Reagan Kandole, Executive Director of ECOaction

ECOaction and its partners (Sustainable Futures in Africa Network, Kampala City Council Authority, Makerere University, Design hub Kampala and the US Embassy) aim to promote and sustain proper solid waste management practices and environmental awareness within schools and communities in Kampala, Uganda. The team aims to teach educators and learners how reducing, reusing and recycling solid waste can make a difference to their school, community, and the environment.

ECOaction has the skills and resources to support this development of this knowledge and practice in schools. In 2019-2020, they worked with Environment and Sanitation clubs in primary schools across Kampala City, on the “Clean Air” project that aimed to help schools to achieve proper waste management. ECOaction and partners collaborated with a group of experts to develop a “tool kit” or teaching and learning manual for waste management and recycling in primary schools.

A curriculum specialist from Makerere University, Dr Leah Sikoyo, and Dr Mia Perry from the University of Glasgow have co-developed the manual with ECOaction community artists, and a local designer. The objective of this manual is to build upon ECOaction’s efforts to sensitize school children on environmental awareness. In particular, the resource relates to proper waste management, through hands-on practical activities relating to reusing and recycling everyday waste to generate useful products for various activities within the school and surrounding communities. The practices described contribute to a clean environment and sustainable livelihoods. The manual introduces the justifications, principles and practices of proper waste management and demonstrates how these can be integrated into the primary school curriculum through relevant themes and topics.

Two flexible and adaptable school projects are suggested in the manual through step-by-step instructions; curriculum thematic connections; and visual illustrations and examples. Finally, each activity is linked to out-of-school and community practices for the broader learning and development in family and community contexts. The extended team strongly believes that this manual provides a unique and powerful resource to schools at this time, and aims to increase the reach and impact of this resource as well as build upon it to develop other resources for educational use.


High Cost of Electricity Is A Major Cause of Climate Change

By Vanessa Duclos, Network Manager

SFA member and PhD student, Anthony Kadoma, has had his first piece of writing published in Uganda national newspaper ‘New Vision’. The article is titled ‘High Cost of Electricity Is A Major Cause of Climate Change’.

It is surprising that despite all our water bodies in form of lakes and rivers, including the River Nile, which is the longest river in Africa, the percentage of Ugandans with access to electricity is the lowest in eastern Africa save for Burundi and South Sudan. The percentage of the citizens that have access to power in the East African region as reported by the World Bank in 2018 was: Burundi (11.02%), South Sudan (22.03%), Uganda (26%), Rwanda (34.72), Tanzania (35.56%) and Kenya (75%). When it comes to the availability of water from where most of the power is generated, Uganda leads all the countries with almost 15% of her land covered by freshwater lakes and swamps. Kenya only has 1.93%, Rwanda 3% and Tanzania 6.49% of its total landmass covered by water and swamps. This clearly shows that Uganda has an advantage over its neighbours. Then the question is why do few Ugandans have access to electricity? One of the reasons is that the cost of accessing and using power is costly for most Ugandans.

There are connection costs, wiring costs, monthly bills to pay, repair costs as well as the cost resulting from the malfunctioning of power, which has been reported to cause huge losses. Another hidden cost is that of load shedding if intended or just the power disappearing without one being alerted. This has spoilt the user’s electricity gadgets with no one to compensate them.

The second reason is that the settlement patterns in Uganda make it so expensive and difficult to have many of the citizens connected to the national grid. Almost all the parts of Uganda are habitable resulting in the scattering of homesteads all over the country, making it hard for them to be connected to the national grid.

Thirdly, there has been mismanagement of some of the government efforts to increase connections to the national grid. Programmes like rural electrification, connecting all-district and sub-county headquarters as well as health facilities are all commendable, but inadequate and do not directly target individual households.

With a handful of Ugandans having electricity in their homes even though they use it for lighting other than cooking, there is a big challenge. Almost all Ugandans whether in urban or rural areas cook using charcoal. This charcoal that is derived from cutting down trees has contributed to a great loss in terms of their acreage.

To make matters worse, the water supplied by the National Water and Sewerage Corporation cannot be consumed unless boiled first because of line leakages. This means that more trees must be cut down for homes to have clean water to drink, adding to our already burdened environment. When the forests are cleared rainfall becomes unreliable, seasons unpredictable, dry seasons are prolonged, crop yields are low, and ultimately limited household incomes.


IMPACT STORY: How an SFA Webinar influenced the curricula of an educational institution in Malawi

By Dora Nyirenda, Research Administration, Malawi Hub

Edited by: Alex Maxwell, PGR, UK

During the COVID-19 pandemic, while most people were locked in their homes, the internet helped SFA continue to connect The SFA Malawi Hub was privileged to host a webinar with Dr Deepa Pullanikkatil on Ecosystem Based Disaster Risk Reduction at the end of April, 2020. The Director of Mzimba Christian Vocational School (MCVS) – a faith-based educational institution in Malawi which takes on ten students every year from across Malawi – and his staff, participated in the webinar which aimed at educating, informing and sharing knowledge on Ecosystem Disaster Risk Reduction. As an institution that tries to implement technology through applied research to develop solutions for the local context, the staff were able to learn examples of how ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction can be applied to disasters.  

The webinar was a knowledge sharing session, but could prove to have a deeper and longer-lasting impact for Malawi more generally, with the MCVS staff inspired to change their curricula to include thtopic. The curriculum developed through the webinar aims to tackle disasters such as floods, droughts, strong winds, and land-slidesLorent Mvulathe Director of Disaster Preparedness, Relief and Management of MCVS explains on how this is useful for the future of Malawians, Using the Ecosystem Based Disaster Risk Reduction information in the curriculum can help reduce vulnerability in exposed communities’It is believed that including ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction (EBDRR) in the curriculum will inform people and communities on the means to saving lives and peoples’ properties through critically thinking about the different ways to tackle everyday challenges. 

Staff believe the course will help students to understand the symbiotic interdependence between variables within the ecosystem which will then mitigate communities from destroying the local ecosystems. The knowledge gained can then be disseminated countrywide and support ecosystems across Malawi. There are additional requirements for the new curriculum to be successful, from teaching materials to building instructors capacities but it is believed that with this support, communities across Malawi will be better equipped and more resilient to dealing with the damaging effects from natural disasters.  

*Post based on an interview with Mzimba Christian Vocational School Director and Staff (Interviewer: Dora Nyirenda) 


Mbabane Flash Floods; a Time to Ponder and Act

By Dr Deepa Pullanikkatil, SFA Co-Director, Eswatini and Malawi Hub

On 6th of February 2020, Mbabane residents in the Kingdom of Eswatini experienced unprecedented flash floods which wreaked havoc in the city, flooding the Plaza, The New Mall and the Industrial Area. It was a storm accompanied by lightning, thunder, hail, strong winds and heavy rainfall in a short period of a few hours. Some say that a similar incident occurred in 2005, others say they never saw anything like this in their lives. Was the incident on 6th February a cloud burst? The Cambridge Dictionary describes a “cloud burst” as a heavy fall of rain that begins and ends suddenly, often accompanied by thunder and lightning. Whether it was a cloud burst or not may need verification from the Department of Meteorology. However, no verification is needed  to state that the rainfall/storm/cloudburst brought the city of Mbabane to a halt.

The New Mall car park, which experienced flash flooding on 6 February 2020 – Mbabane, Eswatini

Streams overflowed, leading to roads, car parks and shops being flooded (in some areas up to knee height).  Several cars were affected, possibly damaged beyond repair. A lot of water runoff from the highway also went into the streams in Mbabane city, further contributing to the overflows and flooding. Supermarkets and shops incurred losses when their merchandise got wet/soaked. It is not clear how much the damage from these flash floods cost or how many shops were insured. In addition to businesses getting flooded, the electricity supply in the city was affected. Trees fell and several electric poles snapped or fell, requiring the Eswatini Electricity Company to work all night to restore power to the affected residents of Mbabane.

Such events make one ponder the big global challenge of our times, Climate Change. With Climate change, such heavy downpours are expected to increase in frequency. According to scientists, southern Africa may experience a mean annual temperature rise. Although mean annual rainfall in the region as a whole will decline, an increase in the intensity of high-rainfall events is projected to occur. Rising air and sea surface temperatures have the potential to lead to more frequent and intense tropical storms in the southern Indian Ocean, and can contribute to more frequent droughts.  These trends are going to affect almost all sectors, including public infrastructure and the private sector.

The heavy downpour of 6th February brings to light how infrastructure planning and the construction of commercial buildings can increase vulnerability to flooding. It is time to ask some important questions. Are the highways and roads which divert storm water to streams into the city actually contributing to flash flooding? Are shops and buildings built on low lying areas, including wetlands, a factor contributing to the increasing risk of flooding? Perhaps this is an opportune time to plan interventions to reduce the risk of such climate and weather shocks. We need to consider issues such as climate proofing infrastructure, disaster risk financing, and insurance to minimize vulnerability.

Coincidentally, during the week of the heavy rainfall event, the National Disaster Management Agency was holding a multi-stakeholder workshop at Mbabane. The purpose of the workshop was to provide training in disaster risk financing and how to create a drought risk monitor and management plan, learning from the 2015/16 El Niño induced drought. This is a welcome initiative given that disaster risk reduction and increasing preparedness and mitigation capacity is urgently needed, particularly in the context of rapid urbanization and the accompanying high hazards to which urban populations and their assets are exposed. The nation is also undertaking a National Adaptation Process, where risk reduction for such flash floods may need to be prioritized.

Short Video of the flash flooding on 6 February 2020 – Mbabane, Eswatini

Mbabane city was able to bounce back after this heavy rainfall event. Shops were cleaned up and opened the very next day.  Fallen trees were removed and electricity restored to residents within hours. But the question remains: how many flooding events can we afford in a year? With climate change, we know that the severity and intensity of droughts and floods are expected to increase in future. This calls for greater engagement with the private sector to ensure their participation in climate change adaptation efforts and Disaster Risk Reduction. Additionally, this incident has brought to light the need to integrate green (ecological), grey (built-environment) and blue (water) infrastructure. There is a compelling business case for the private sector to invest in these measures, because the alternative of bearing the costs of the recurring adverse impacts of floods and droughts may be too high for their business operations. There is no time to lose. We do not want future disasters to affect us, and to watch our future slip through our fingers, just like water.


Covid-19: The ‘Statue’

By Tom Ketlogetswe, Thapong Visual Arts Center, Botswana

Back in my childhood we used to play a game called ‘statue’. Played as a group, the game coordinator, situated in the middle, will ask us to run or walk. Whenever he/she uttered the word ‘statue’ everyone would freeze their motions immediately. Failure to freeze ones motion would lead to some kind of reprimand.

The Coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly flipped a ‘statue’ switch in our lives. Normal life has been frozen. Thapong Visual Art Centre in Gaborone, Botswana has not been spared the ‘statue’ moment. It has been more than two months since the centre tried to open its doors to art lovers to view a collection of 38 artworks themed around the Coronavirus. The exhibition comprises of paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, ceramics and mixed media.

Majority of the works are a narrative of the pandemic. In majority of the works, the mask has become the symbol of the pandemic. Kedumetse Tshidiso’s painting titled ‘Run’ depicts the Coronavirus as a gigantic bird that unleashes pandemonium on the masses. Thabo Keorapetse’s ‘Waiting on the pandemic’ is a photograph showing dejected woman and child at a bus stop. In Gofaone Thebeetsile’s ‘Tourism’ painting, he paints a bleak future for the industry. Emmanuel Senamolela, a ceramist, uses pottery to represent the ‘feeling’ under the corona virus.

Other artists, such as Wailer Motsumi and Gabriel Puskas, are optimistic in their works. Motsumi’s sculpture titled ‘Education continues after  lockdown’ shows a girl in full school gear confidently walking to school. Puskas’s ‘Light in the dark’ painting is one of the few nonrepresentational pieces that suggest that amidst the dark and gloom there is a ray of light. In an effort to outwit the ‘statue’ coordinator, Thapong is working around the clock to showcase the exhibition in social media platforms.


A life changed - Narrative from a fresh University of Glasgow Alumnus

By Stewart Paul, SFA Malawi Hub

The past 12 months of my life (September 2019 to August 2020) have been quite defining. It was the first time that I lived outside Africa, in search of a “good” education. Through a prestigious Scottish Funding Council (SFC)-Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) funded project, I was able to access high quality postgraduate education at the “World Changing” University of Glasgow in the United Kingdom. I have been able to get international exposure and connections to professionals from various institutions such as the Glasgow School of Arts and Glasgow Dental Hospital and School. I have also received professional development trainings such as the Graduate Skills Program (GSP) and the Professional Skills Program (PSP) offered by the University of Glasgow – College of Social Sciences.

The scholarship that I was awarded had a research budget attached to it – which would have necessitated me to travel to and undertake research activities in Malawi. My research interest was on the implications – for access and attainment – of foreign aid on education policy and practice in Malawi. Although I managed to travel to Malawi between December 2019 and January 2020 for pre-research activities, I was not able to proceed with the rest of the research plan due to the unprecedented impacts of the COVID 19 pandemic. Regardless, I was able to carry out a robust piece of research after changing the study design and methodology.

The studentship supported me to build academic skills that turn out to be very pivotal in enabling me to progress in my career trajectory in socio-ecological sustainability and community education in Malawi. The academic and research skills, the expanded international experience and network, and the outputs and outcomes of this research will put me in a strong position to develop this work through doctoral studies, through direct research contribution to the Malawian Sustainable Futures in Africa (SFA) hub in general and Abundance NGO specifically, and to the education and development sector more broadly. In the end, I hope and intend to significantly contribute to changing other people’s lives, especially youths in the area of education and development.


Development of clean cooking facilities to boost climate change resilience in Malawi

By Dr Deepa Pullanikkatil, Co-Director Sustainable Futures in Arica and Co-Founder Abundance

The University of Glasgow’s project on “Sustainable Clean Cooking Facilities to boost resilience to climate change in Malawi” was amongst three out of over 30 applications that were funded by the Scottish Government’s Climate Justice Innovation Fund (CJIF) in 2019. This fund supports the delivery of climate justice related projects which field test the feasibility of new methods, technologies or approaches in tackling climate change, or trial new innovations on the path to scale.

This bioenergy project aims to help address deforestation in southern Malawi (Machinga) through delivering a sustainable biofuel production (biogas and biosyngas) using organic waste as fuel for clean and efficient cooking. The total funding is £122,583 and the project is implemented by the University of Glasgow (PI Dr. Nader Karimi) with partners in Malawi; Abundance, Fab Engineering, Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) and LEAD.

The partnership in this project goes back to 2016, when Dr.Karimi and Dr.Pullanikkatil were connected through Sustainable Futures in Africa network. Between 2017-2018, Dr.Karimi and his colleagues from the University of Glasgow led a Biomass Energy study in partnership with Abundance to understand Malawi’s specific energy issues. Seeing first-hand that people still use the three stone stove, that women walk far distances to collect firewood, the rampant deforestation and that even simple fuel efficient technologies were not widely used in Malawi, inspired Dr.Karimi to think of a solution specifically “engineered” for Malawi. Dr.Pullanikkatil undertook a residency at the University of Glasgow in 2018, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, which gave her the opportunity to engage further with Karimi and connect him to colleagues in Malawi, who later became partners of this CJIF project.

This project addresses the need for clean energy and contributes towards improving energy security using a novel and innovative technology designed for Malawi. In Malawi only 11% of the population have access to electricity and 98% of people use wood fuel for cooking (a figure that remains unchanged since 2010). Exposure to smoke from cooking has severe negative health impacts and even in urban areas of Malawi, firewood is mainly used in open three-stone fires. The use of firewood and charcoal has contributed significantly to deforestation and the need for cleaner energy sources which are more efficient for cooking is much needed in Malawi. Majority of the clean energy interventions in Malawi focus on using “less” firewood or charcoal, through increasing efficiency of stoves, this project improves on this approach by eliminating firewood altogether as fuel and replacing it with organic waste.

The project responds to the needs of Malawi as articulated by its Government. Regionally, clean and efficient Energy is a priority as noted in the Southern African Development Community (SADC)’s Protocol on Energy, to which Malawi has been a signatory since 1996. Nationally, the overarching development master plan for Malawi is the “Malawi Growth and Development Strategy” or MGDS. The latest MGDS III has ranked Energy as one of its five key priority areas and calls for technologies that can aid rural areas to have affordable, clean and efficient energy. Furthermore, Malawi’s Climate Change Policy and Strategy has acknowledged the need for efficient and clean energy to help Malawi reach its climate action goals.

Abundance’s Ruth Mumba and Grace Moyo visited Fab engineering where Andrew Khonje was manufacturing the gasifier plant.

Using an innovative approach of combining biogas and biosyngas, this project is developing a clean and efficient energy technology that can help Malawians rise the energy ladder and also contribute towards achieving climate action goals. The reason to combine biogas and biosyngas technology is due to Malawi’s unique climate; a hot and rainy season from mid-November to April and a relatively cool and dry season from mid-May to mid-August. During the wet season, plenty of wet orgnic waste will be available, while in the dry season, it will be dry organic waste. A technology that can only work with wet biomass/organic matter will not be suitable for the dry season and vice versa; hence this innovative combination of biogas and biosyngas. Furthermore, this innovative technology is completely smokeless, which is different from the previously piloted efficient cooking technologies such as fuel-efficient stoves, which reduce smoke, but not completely remove it.

Through this project, a nationwide survey on biomass availability and its combustion properties was done by LUANAR in March 2020. Fab Engineering has assembled the energy plant with designs and instruction from the PI and colleagues from University of Glasgow. Currently, the plant is being tested with various types of waste including cow dung and rice husks, both of which are wastes readily available in the site where the technology will be piloted. The energy plant will be piloted at the kitchen of the Chilimba Primary school at Mbando village, where Abundance has been working since 2016. Abundance has set up a youth waste collection team of 10 men and 10 women, who have begun collecting dry and wet wastes at Mbando village. They have been able to find rice husks from a nearby rice mill, sugarcane waste and cowdung from smallholder farms within the village.

The testing of the cooker is ongoing and preliminary results are promising, as evident in the pictures where the gas flame successfully boiled water in a pot. Abundance’s Ruth Mumba and Grace Moyo visited Fab engineering where Andrew Khonje was manufacturing the gasifier plant.

COVID-19 has challenged the project team to undertake work with less physical contact with Mbando villagers. Meetings were held at the village with safe distancing. Malawi did not have a lockdown, however the team shared masks, cleaning materials with Mbando village and purchased a smartphone to ease communication for the Community Coordinator. As the number of cases of COVID-19 declined in the past weeks, a site visit was done on 8 October 2020 by Fab engineering and Abundance’s team. Stewart Paul, who recently returned from the University of Glasgow with a master’s degree joined Ruth Mumba and Grace Moyo in the visit.

The site chosen for the piloting is a kitchen used by Mary’s Meals, a Scottish charity that provides nutritious mid-day meals to children. Abundance shared the project idea with them and were delighted when they delivered 732kg of Corn Soya Blend (CSB) flour to Abundance’s offices in Zomba which will be used for the piloting phase. During piloting phase CSB porridge will be cooked and served to approximately 1200 children in the primary school. The partnership and generocity of Mary’s Meals in this project is much appreciated.

It is already well reflected in the open literature that extensive use of firewood and charcoal has led to massive deforestation and significant health issues in Malawi. This project aims to address the deforestation problem using organic waste in an innovative cooker instead of firewood or charcoal. The users of the technology are Mary’s Meals staff and teachers from Chilimba Primary School in Mbando village. In this regard, an indemnity form has also been signed by Abundance and Chilimba school to indemnify Mary’s Meals of any issues arising from the project. The piloting will be done for several weeks where the cooker will be tested. These users will be interviewed to improve the technology design and a reengineered design will be made that addresses their concerns. This way, the design is informed by local knowledge. After completion of the project, the system stays in the school and will be a permanent asset for the Mbando community. The project results will be widely disseminated through networks such as the SFA and private sector in Malawi will be encouraged to upscale the technology. The project will end in March 2021 and it is hoped it will leave a lasting legacy at Mbando village.


Living in an era of ecological bankruptcy

By Anthony Kadoma- PhD Student, Environmental Sustainability, University of Glasgow

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), 85% of the world countries are ecologically bankrupt. Ecological bankruptcy is defined as a situation where a country’s natural resources are used at a faster rate than the same resources can regenerate. This bankruptcy is more pronounced in developed countries compared to middle-income countries and very few of the developing countries. Thus, many of the countries in Europe, Asia, and North America are perceived to be ecologically bankrupt. In the same way, developing countries that are not already there are not resting, they are also racing and are on a terrific speed to catch up with the developed nations. Global programs such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aim at improving living standards across the globe mainly through poverty eradication. Although we all agree with the endeavour to eradicate poverty, by transitioning to improved standards of living, it is essential that this improvement is done cautiously and in awareness of the environmental costs that come with development.

Several examples can indicate ecological bankruptcy. This can manifests through the negative effects of climate change such as prolonged droughts, uncontrolled wildfires, hail storms, hurricanes, flooding, landslides, ever-changing seasons, excessive carbon-dioxide,  loss of biodiversity, presence of many crops and animal pests and diseases, invasion of locusts, and unprecedented human destruction on environment. It is surprising to note that in Uganda, lakes that are traditionally known for not exceeding their usual levels have done so in the recent past – a phenomenon that had not been seen in decades.

Whereas it is difficult to pinpoint the actual causes of the above disasters, many of them may be linked to human activities and natural change processes. The global population currently stands at 7.8 billion with a 2.3 fertility rate (World Population Data Sheet-2020), living in an inelastic planet. Matters are made worse with the presence of non-ecological human behaviour and actions towards mother earth such as inappropriate disposal of plastic materials and general waste management. The ever-increasing human population also let to a significant encroachment on world wetlands driving them to disappear three times faster than forests (UN Climate Change Report- 2018).

Below I suggest what I consider the ten points or actions that can be taken to mitigate ecological bankruptcy in any given community. This list is not exhaustive and can be amended if more research is conducted to address specific issues.

  1. Increase awareness about the problem of ecological bankruptcy so that it is clearly understood by all.
  2. Enlist the participation of all stakeholders in whatever capacity they can support.
  3. Identify and promote locally based solutions grounded in indigenous knowledge.
  4. Study and share good practices globally, regionally, nationally and at the community level.
  5. Advocate for and influence human behavioural changes to adopt better waste management practices of reducing, recycling, and reusing. Conserve and use wisely the remaining ecosystems and make practical efforts to restore those destroyed.
  6. Identify and support alternative sources of livelihood for the majority of poor subsistence farmers. With improved living standards, they will be able to shift their practices towards more sustainable ones
  7. Establish and implement punitive measures for those who use their economic power and political connections to destroy the environment on a large scale. This can be achieved if politics is removed from the management of the environment.
  8. Make improvements in the quality of services offered to the citizens, especially in areas of health, education, and agriculture. It should be remembered that modern agriculture relies heavily on the use of hydrocarbons, pesticides, and fertilisers. These need to be used in moderation and where applicable be replaced with organic farming.
  9. Encourage everyone to take individual responsibility regarding how we live our lives. Planet-friendly actions need to be adopted. These among others may include free distribution and planting of several trees in areas where massive vegetation cover has been cleared, reforestation where forest lands have been decimated, and stopping the encroachment on wetlands and riverbanks as well as lakeshores.
  10. Finally, for most Sub-Saharan African countries, particularly Uganda, increase access to electricity and make it affordable to the citizens. At present (2020) only about 60% of the urban residents and 18% of the rural residents are connected to the national grid. Given the fact that over 75% of the population lives in rural areas (World Bank Report 2019), this paints a very grim situation. It implies that most of the people still rely on wood as their source of energy for cooking and lighting.

In conclusion, all individuals, communities and governments in both developed and developing nations need to be unequivocally aware of the fact that we are living in a natural resource-constrained planet. Our ecological overdraft gets larger day by day and year by year. Therefore, we need to be careful about how we harvest and use the scarce available resources as their scarcity is going to intensify as the world population increases, more disasters befall us, wrong political decisions are taken, and finally the presence of our uncontrolled greed.


Poetry from Malawi

By Yonah Trywell Mwandila, Malawi hub member

COVID-19

I am called Corona Virus.
Born in 2019, have already paralyzed operations, bodily and spiritually.

I am called Covid 19.
My moto is to perish human life on earth.
With no age limit, will know me through cough, fever and struggling for breath.

I am Corona Virus.
My greatest enemy is Ministry of Health,
when commanding people to wash hands with soap regularly, no hand shaking, wearing masks, social distancing and having few people in any gatherings.

I am Covid 19
I hate quarantine operations
my spreading cycle is easily broken
paying deaf ears to prayers I enjoy.