Minister of Natural Resources and Climate Change Michael Usi has said chiefs in the country should be empowered to be on the driving seat in managing natural resources for improved livelihoods and climate resilience.
Usi was opening the first ever National Chiefs Forum on Integrated Natural Resources Management and Transition to Sustainable Agriculture and Livelihoods in Malawi in Lilongwe on Wednesday.
He said chiefs play a critical role in the stewardship of forests and natural resources, hence the need to incorporate them in every programme.
“Let the chiefs be on the driving seat. Sometimes they fail to act because they are not empowered. This is why we are still losing a lot of trees to charcoal burning. Funds should be channelled directly to the chiefs if we are to achieve tangible results,” he said.
Usi further called for immediate disciplinary action and dismissal of corrupt public officers and those who fail to perform in their field.
Regional director for Leadership for Environment and Development in Southern and Eastern Africa (LEADSEA) Professor Sosten Chiotha called for the need to integrate all issues related to climate change including population, gender, early marriages and natural resource management.
“Malawi’s dependence on natural resources and biomass energy is very high, that’s why we are engaging the chiefs. We need an integrated approach in management of forests and wetlands as well as to transition to sustainable agriculture,” he said.
UN Resident Coordinator for Malawi Adda-Dontoh said the UN will continue to support Malawi to build resilience and address other challenges in relation to climate change.
Inkosi ya Makhosi Mm’belwa of Mzimba hailed the initiative, saying it will go a long way in addressing the gaps when dealing with matters of natural resource management in communities.
“There has been a gap between the government side and us chiefs. In the communities we find people cutting down trees in restricted forests but they have a government receipt hence it becomes difficult for us to act. This meeting will help us to come on one page and iron out the differences,” he said.
The forum seeks to delineate the roles and responsibilities of chiefs across Malawi and construct a collaborative framework to enhance the governance of natural resources, while providing sustainable livelihoods that take into account the health of the population and the overall development of the country.
The two-day meeting was conducted under the theme, improving governance for effective conservation and restoration of natural resources, sustainable agriculture and livelihoods in Malawi.
On Thursday, President Lazarus Chakwera is expected to attend the forum which has brought together all paramount chiefs, senior chiefs and Traditional Authorities (T/A) in the country.
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