By Francis Polinyo Banda

The bishop of Diocese of Mangochi in Malawi, His Lordship Montfort Stima called on stakeholders to engage an extra gear in the fight against environmental degradation.

Bishop Stima made the call at the beginning of the 42st annual general conference of the Catholic Women Organization (CWO) on Thursday,  December 12th, 2019 at Daughters of Mary Immaculate (DMI)  University  in the diocese.

Diocesan CWO leaders from the 8 dioceses in Malawi

He said time is up for stakeholders to start providing ways and means of ensuring that people have the necessary support to ensure that efforts exerted in environmental conservation bear the desired fruits. The bishop said he appreciates different interventions made by various stakeholders in this cause, but he pointed out that there is still more that need to be done.

“The biggest problem here in Malawi is environmental degradation. We should note that what we need to do to those who degrade the environment is also a challenge on its own for them to minimize their activity. We used to advise people what they should not do to curb the impact of environmental degradation, but what are we telling them to do?. We tell them once they cut down a tree, they should replace it. But I think we are just telling them to replace the trees without giving them the necessary support such as providing them with seedlings and care expertise for their seedlings to survive”, said Stima.

…liturgy in course…

He added that once supported, people need to be followed to check if they are following the technical know-how on care and support imparted onto them for the new seedlings to grow.

“Once given the support, people should be checked if, for instance, they are clearing bushes around their seedlings and make fire breaks”, he added.

His Lordship Stima continued by joining many other stakeholders who assert that women are the biggest victims of climate change and there is need to engage them to the fullest so that they understand their roles and responsibilities in the fight. He said the Catholic Development Commission (CADECOM) in the diocese with support from TROCAIRE,a faith based organization, is supporting farming families in five parishes of Ulongwe,  St.Mary’s, Namandanje, St.Montfort-Masanje and Mpiri in planting bamboos as one way of reducing overdependence on trees for energy and income generation. On this note, he described the initiative as a good move in checking environmental degradation that will also go a long way in reducing poverty at household level as bamboos are multipurpose assets which are also cost effective to manage.

Commenting on the issue, TROCAIRE country director Jeannette Wjnants implored policy makers in the country to find the lasting solution to the challenges that attract climate change, saying telling people to just stop environmental degradation is not enough as people will continue discovering ways of surviving within nature. She concurred with Bishop Stima that   women are the biggest victims of climate change, saying this is why TROCAIRE, in conjunction with the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) organized a session for CWO members at the conference to look into the matter to trigger a third debate.the catholic church with a huge following, who are also committed in all aspects of life and we thought it wise to join them here at the AGM so that we share knowledge on the roles and responsibilities each one of them should play in ensuring that climate change is minimized even at the household level” said Wijnants.
She finally assured that her organization is ready to support in various areas of intervention that will set women free from the bondage of climate change once they continue committing themselves in the fight. Among areas noted during the environmental conservation session at the conference  was women’s roles in ensuring a healthy nation, such as proper disposal of baby nappies that take time to decompose just like plastic papers.END