A non governmental organization called Save Environment People Agency (SEPA) with support from Action Aid has intensified awareness programmes to curb environmental degradation in the country.
SEPA Chief Executive Officer Mailes Muke has observed that lack of enhanced capacity building on forest dependency, has contributed to high rate of environmental degradation.
Ms. Muke said enhanced capacity building in communities will result in them holding decision makers accountable on their rights to environmental protection.
Speaking during a stakeholders meeting on environmental protection in Zambezi yesterday, Ms Muke said SEPA is working with traditional leaders, women, youths, farmers and extension officers to try and deepen the understanding on how the community can best protect the environment.
She said there is need to build capacity in communities and deepen their understanding of sustainable environmental protection and sustainable natural resources management as well as close gaps between good and bad environmental practices.
The SEPA CEO further stated that bridging the gaps will help communities to appreciate government policies which point to forest management in Zambia as well as feel more confident in holding government institutions and Extractive Industries accountable over community benefits from Extractive.
She noted that due to the high effect of environmental degradation most people have depended on the hospital resulting in increased government expenditure on medicine, adding that all of this can be reduced if people become responsible toward the environment.
“We can reduce the cost of medicine and save a lot of money on government spending on medicines if only all of us become responsible for the environment”,
“No one cares about the water and the environment. All they do is pollute the environment and move on without knowing the impact it has on humans as a result many lives are lost”, Ms. Muke said.
Zambezi Council environmental officer, Carol Mooto said that lack of interest and ownership of the land by the communities has been one of the major contributing factors to environmental degradation hence the need for the community to take part in protecting it.
Ms. Mooto was saddened that people come from other places to harvest timber and make more money leaving the owners of the land in poverty all because they are not concerned about the land they own.
She has since urged communities to stop blaming the government for their negligence, saying that they own the land and they should take ownership by holding accountable those who extract the timber and other minerals in their respective areas.
“We can’t continue blaming the government all the time. As a community we have the responsibility to look after the environment because we own it and if we don’t take part in it we will always remain poor and continue facing the effects of climate change”, she said.