“The partnership we have with DRP has helped a lot in increasing listenership and especially with the use of FrontlineSMS and that the programmes of Zachilengedwe Tsogolo Lathu, (Our Environment, Our Future) centered much on the alternative source of energy.
Community Event also contributed a lot to the success and we are receiving a lot of request from communities to teach them on how they can make ceramic wood saving stoves.
This has happened because of the training the environmental reporters had when the project was starting and again in course of implementation. The project has also strengthened the partnership we have with other organization like Total Land Care and the District forest office.”
As told by: Pilirani - Chimutu Station Supervisor at Mudziwathu Community Radio in Mchinji, Malawi
The challenge: People who are experiencing climate change, do not know the causes or how to do anything about it. While they need the information the most, they have the least information, living in rural areas in Africa.
With funds from the Foundation to Promote Open Society inn September 2009 DRP launched a year long pilot project, ‘Our Environment, Our Future, as the participants named it in their language, Zachilengedwe Tsogolo Lathu' that brings residents the information they need in he way they can best use it, by radio.
We are working in partnership with Breeze-FM, 99.6, a community oriented private station in Chpata, Zambia. with six radio stations in rural Zambia and Malawi.
The project helps the six stations create and broadcast high quality environmental programming that is focused on local issues. It also encourages innovative use of cell phones to expand the stations’ interaction with listeners, using the text messaging software FrontlineSMS. FrontlineSMS’ interactive functions combine with broadcast’s wide reach to facilitate an ongoing dialogue between stations and their community around natural resource issues, guidance for reporters and the latest solutions.
The project’s key activities include:
In spite of a number of challenges, the stations have embraced the project and the opportunities that the environmental information that we are providing and the radio-FrontlineSMS mashup presents. All are eagerly implementing its activities.
Their audiences have embraced this programming as well, and are seizing the opportunities to interact, ask questions, and make suggestions.
We are excited by the progress shown in the pilot project, and are eager for the opportunity to expand it to other regions and subject areas.
As global temperatures have risen, the smoke from Third World kitchens has been upgraded from a local to a universal threat. The average cooking fire produces about as much carbon dioxide as a car, and a great deal more soot, or black carbon. Cleaning up these emissions may be the fastest, cheapest way to cool the planet.
-Burkhard Bilger, writing in The New Yorker
Joseph Mazizi, is the 27 year old volunteer head of news, at Radio Wathu, (Radio in our Village), in the small trading center of Mchinji, Malawi. Joseph has been reporting on the environment for four years and learned that a small NGO , Total Land Care, had found an inexpensive way to make more efficient stoves. Because 85% of the people heat meals on stoves that use wood and because this area has one of the highest per capita deforestation rates in the world he saw this as an opportunity.
As a participant in our ‘Our Environment, Our Future’ project, for his community project, he organized stove making demonstrations in two different locations over two days. Residents from a total of 27 villages learned how to make ceramic stoves that burn far less wood. Firewood that would be burned in three days with existing stoves, would last about two weeks with the new stoves. Joseph also showed how corn husks and other materials can be substituted fro wood.
The stoves are made from anthills, animal dung, bricks, water and timber for molding so they essentially cost nothing to make. Because the women in the community showed how to make them, they were quickly adopted by the other women. Countless stoves have been developed in the North only to have them not used because they were not suitable for the local needs.
A traditional leader pledged support and said that he will make sure that every kitchen will have a stove by the end of the month.
To provide a sustainable source of firewood, the local forest officer pledged tree seeds, asking only that the villagers build a fence for the tree nursery and create a village woodlot.
This is an African solution to an African problem.
Joseph Mazizi wrote in his report:
It seems communities are ready to adopt alternative sources of energy and also ensure environment is conserved all they need are resources in terms of skills and knowledge be imparted in them. It is therefore important to have such activities until communities fully adopt the technology and appreciate their contribution to Climate Change, the problem that affects most African countries and have suffered leading to food insecurity.
Before our project, residents did not know the causes of climate change or how to mitigate the effects of it. Now they do.