Radio and TV Series on Climate Resilience and COVID-19 Prevention
First and Second Episode
Understanding the Complexity of Climate Resilience Amidst COVID-19
Both episodes are presented by Philip Zikanyanga featuring Jekapu Dishani and Joseph K. Sakala as experts from YSD Malawi. The aim of this programme was to establish a foundation of all other programs by helping listeners to understand what climate resilience is all about, its basic concept and how is can be attained among smallholder farmers. The program was based on the following guiding questions:
1. What is climate resilience both in scientific and practical context?
The term climate resilience was defined and clarified with examples both scientifically and practically.
2. How can farmers become climate resilient?
The presenter emphasised that is is possible for smallholder farmers to become resilient to the shocks of climate change. It was explained that farmers can become resilient if they implement strategies aimed at the following aspects: soil management such as applying manure, crop rotation and others; water management strategies like pit farming, conservation agriculture, box ridges etc.; pest and disease prevention and control strategies (indigenous ways are encouraged); using resistant crop varieties such as cassava; not relying on only one crop (crop diversification).
3. The approach of YSD Malawi to help farmers attain climate resilience
YSD uses a unique approach to help the smallholder farmers attain climate resilience. First of all, the farmers are trained to help them to understand the concept of climate resilience, why it is important and strategies they can use to attain it. Then a "'learning by doing approach" is used to help them implement the strategies. In this approach, a demonstration site is established where farmers are able to learn different approach and later implement them in their individual fields.
4. How has COVID-19 affected the implementation of climate resilience among smallholder farmers?
The pandermic has affected the implementation of climate resilience initiatives in a number of ways as follows: COVID-19 has restricted gatherings whereby it is becoming impossible for an NGO that works with farmers to go into the field and conduct its activities. Farmers who are organised in groups are not meeting to discuss and work together in initiatives which would help them attain climate resilience. For example, farmers who do irrigation activities together as a club are no longer doing it in fear of transmitting the corona virus. At individual level, farmers have been affected psychologically: Instead of fearing climate change, the corona virus has taken their attention and hence they are not focusing much on climate resilience initiatives. Farmers are finding it difficult to search for good markets. Hence, they are selling their crops are low prices.
5. The way forward – What should be done for farmers to still attain climate resilience amidst COVID-19?
First of all, it was recommended that new ways that will assist in passing information from organisations or other institutions to farmers without physical interaction should be developed and encouraged. Farmers should consider COVID-19 as any other permanent disease and should accept and learn to live with it while taking all precautions to avoid contracting the disease.
Environmental Conservation Amidst COVID-19
This episodes are presented by Philip Zikanyanga featuring Bonface Phiri and Joseph K. Sakala as experts from YSD Malawi. This program was designed to help listeners understand how some climate resilience enablers, such as environmental conservation, have been affected by COVID-19 and how this can have a bearing on smallholder farmers.
The program was guided by the following questions:
1. What impacts has COVID-19 brought to the Environment?
It was explained that although research is underway to determine the effects of COVID-19 on the environment, the following were some of the issues that came out: The rate of deforestation might increase. COVID-19 has caused economic challenges among most poor rural households. Those households near forests might be forced to rely or forests or their products as a source of living through firewood and charcoal selling which might increase deforestation activities. Concerning wildlife management, the tourism industry has been greatly affected by lockdowns and travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This has decreased the income of the owners of the tourism industry which might also affect conservation activities of forests and wildlife. Regarding the use of masks, research is underway to determine the effects of use of masks on the environment. Those masks that are made from non-biodegradable materials have the potential to negatively affect the environment. The coming of COVID-19 has resulted in stopping the implementation of environmental management strategies either by organisations or government institutions.
2. Can the problems brought by COVID-19 have a bearing on smallholder farmers and if so how?
Yes, the problems that COVID-19 has brought about can directly or indirectly affect the smallholder farmers. For example increased deforestation has an effect on rainfall pattern which can affect rainfed agriculture. On the other hand, the same deforestation can increase run-off whereby increasing the risk of floods and this can have a bearing on smallholder farmers. There is also a link between environmental degradation and climate change. It is noted scientifically that increased environmental degradation accelerates climate change. Therefore, there is likelihood of increased climate change shocks as a result of mismanagement of environmental resouces making it difficult for a smallholder farmer to become resilient to these shocks. So, there are many ways a smallholder farmer can be impacted if there is a mismanagement.
Challenges Posed on Forests Amidst COVID-19
Forests help preserve water which is also an important resource amidst Covid-19 pandemic. The following are some of the challenges that have been posed on the forests amidst Covid-19:
– Due to Covid-19, meetings aimed at enhancing protection of forests have been restricted and even stopped completely, a development that has led to increased destruction of forests by those who do so.
– Due to Covid-19, there is a decreased work force in institutions that encourage protection of forests hence there is a decreased monitoring of activities that take place around forests. This has in turn also led to the increased damage and destruction to forests.
– It is helpful to strengthen cooperatives in nature conservation activities.
Natural Resources Management Amidst COVID-19
– Good nature entails good climate and environment for ecological food production.
– As citizens, we all have a responsibility of managing natural resources.
– As citizens, we all need to have an awareness of ownership of the natural resources present in our country as this is an important factor in the management of natural resources.
– By-laws can also help in proper management of natural resources.
Wildlife Conservation Challenges Amidst COVID-19
– Money that would work to conserve wildlife is now working to fight Covid-19
– Health of the people who would work to conserve wildlife is at risk of contracting Covid-19 and its preventive measures are restricting those workers from going to work.
– In the end wildlife gets out of control and feeds on the smallholder farms in search of food, in such cases the farmers pay the price at the end.
Challenges Facing Fisheries Amidst COVID-19
– Fish farming is considered among climate resilient pathways that helps strengthen the farmers’ stability socioeconomically.
– Covid-19 has decreased the demand for fish which can make fishers to resort to others ways of earning a living some of which are not environmental friendly.
– Covid-19 has decreased the freedom to work in groups as fishers and fish sellers at fish markets since Covid-19 has led to restrictions on the number of people that can work together as a group.
Fisheries Management Amidst COVID-19
– Covid-19 has led to a decrease in the number of fishers at the lake a development which has a positive result of increasing the fish population in the lake.
– During Covid-19, fishers are encouraged to use the recommended sizes of nets as a way of managing the fisheries resources.
– During Covid-19, fishers are encouraged not to use fishing methods that are not environmental friendly.
Vulnerability of Agricultural Water Sources Amidst COVID-19
– Good access and quality of water is essential for a vibrant natural ecosystem and sustainable ecological farming
– Poverty during Covid-19 has forced some people to engage in collection of sand along river banks for sell which in turn has a negative effect on the water sources which are important for agricultural use and an important resource as far as the aquatic ecosystem is concerned e.g. serving as a habitat for aquatic life.
– In the end, the situation gets more and more complex as the water which is a supporting system for ecosystems and most forms of agriculture is compromised.
Emissions & Mining Threats Accelerated Amidst COVID-19
– The resilience of smallholder farmers becomes challenging in a worsening climate. Among other, fossil fuel extraction projects makes the fight against climate change more difficult and longer than it should be.
– Accelerated emissions and mining can lead to an increased destruction of fisheries resources due to oil spillage leading to death of fish. This has a negative effect on the economy of the people living close to the lake as fish create employment and are a source of income to them.
– This will also affect farmers’ cooperatives that resort into fish business as an alternative pathway to crop production.
Environmental Governance Amidst COVID-19
“The environment is our national treasure”, the president of Malawi said.
– Multi-sectoral approach on environmental affairs needed.
– District councils cannot attend to every environmental issue hence the need to involve the private sector.
– To have a national response on environmental affairs there is need to consolidate the public sector with the private sector ideas.
– Need to start locally and then consolidate at international level.
– The people involved in the task force should not just have knowledge on environmental issues but also have a practical experience on these environmental issues.
Waste Management Amidst COVID-19
– The city council has collaborated with other private companies to help in the collection of waste in the city.
– The city council is planning on open a new land fill apart from the one that is already there.
– The council with councilors regularly engage in clean up exercises and also support others who are doing the same.
Clean Water and Sanitation – Part 1
- The program focused on the understanding of what water means to different groups of people?
- The overall discussion focused on understanding water and sanitation as an essential topic that touches on environmental conservation and acess to clean water.
The program emphasized on the free state of water from disease causing microorganisms such as germs, bacteria. Free from dirt, undesirable taste and fitting into the Water Standard Chemical composition…
- The program further discussed on how water is treated and distributed in Malawi amidst COVID-19.
This was quite a lengthy talk but the key points included that in most cases they use filtration and chemical treatment. In summary the program focused on How Water Distribution companies are working to ensure access to clean water and at the same time that nature is conserved.
The program also noted that in terms of clean water access in Malawi, about 80% of the population have access to an improved source of drinking water but that leaves 4 million people who still lack access to safe drinking water. 89% globally have access to improved water source according to USAID.
Clean Water and Sanitation – Part 2 (continuation)
In continuation from previous program, the 14th episode tried to reflect on the socio-economic factors that limits access to clean water and how this translates to environmental problems such as people clearing vegetation in search of drinking water.
- The discussion highlighted on the public perception towards water access for example how often people discuss water issues in their day to day life and undertakings.
- The discussion further highlighted a number of social and environmental factors contributing to limited water access; below are some examples that were highlighted,
- Socio-economic conditions,
- Because of a series of droughts and Floods,
- Population growth, Poor governance,
- High non-functionality of water facilities and Technical failure,
- Water inequality; Uneven distribution of water resources and facilities
- Possible effects of failing to access clean water: Waterborne disease e.g. Cholera, Slow in economic activities hence increasing dependency on natural resources as an alternative, Unproductive and demotivated citizens and Long distances to fetch water
The Continual increasing agricultural pressure on wetlands – Part 1
- The program started by looking at the different wetlands available in Malawi.
- The wetland were defined in the context of a distinct ecosystem that is flooded by water, either permanently or seasonally, where oxygen-free processes prevail.
- It was emphasized on the significance of the vegetation of aquatic plants that are found across different wetlands and their critical role in ensuring clean water supply and also filtering environmental pollution.
- Another key point of emphasis was on the connection between wetlands and water access?
- It was noted during the program that Wetland plants help in filtering elements in water such as Nitrogen and Phosphates that sometimes find their way into the environment or water bodies.
- The program further looked at different threats posed on wetlands by increasing conventional agriculture practices and other activities that might be deemed unsustainable in nature. The areas of focus included;
- Removal of vegetation,
- Building or construction projects,
- Conventional farming which disturbs the land,
- Changes in water levels,
- Drainage patterns,
- Influx of surface water and sediments from upland… worse when trees are cut upland
The Continual increasing agricultural pressure on wetlands – Part 2 (continuation)
- In the second edition of the wetland discussion as an environmental component that has been made more vulnerable due to climate change. In this episode, we are discussing the “wetlands protection” and sustainability in effort to promote the stability of natural ecosystems such as wetlands amidst climate change.
- We further analyze the popularity of wetland as a topic of discussion among citizens and how important it is perceived in Malawi among people? It was noted that this hasn’t been a hot topic across the country and people tend to prioritize agriculture, settlement and construction over wetland protection hence rendering wetlands more and more vulnerable.
- At the end of the program, we shift focus to talk on the prospects of what can happen in the near future if wetlands continue to be turned into agriculture and residential places? Here the presenters highlights on the many challenges and complexities that will likely follow if wetlands are left unprotected. These includes flush floods, loss of lives and damage to property to water pressure among others.
- In concluding remarks, we there encouraged the following:
- Maintain the existing plants,
- Don’t use chemicals such as fertilizers,
- Avoid planting non-native or invasive plants
- Avoid water runoff
- Avoid pollution e.g dumping unsustainable waste like plastics and others.
- Keep pets and domestic animals under control
- Learn and educate others,
- Participate and volunteer in wetland protection wherever you are.
YSD's radio and TV series on the Malawian "Channel for All Nations" will continue in 2021. We currently plan to have 20 episodes overall.
Photo: YSD Malawi.