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CTA. 2002. Stopping slash-and-burn. Rural Radio Resource Pack 02/3. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57341
An NGO in Zambia has volunteers living with forest communities, in order to build up trust and work together on alternatives to slash-and-burn agriculture.
Stopping slash-and-burn Cue: Slash-and-burn is one of the oldest forms of agriculture, and in areas with low population density it can still be a sustainable way of survival. But forest land which has been cleared and cultivated needs a long time to recover; when population increases, recovery times for the land are reduced, and in time it becomes degraded and exhausted. However, changing the methods used by slash-and-burn cultivators is notoriously difficult. Many countries have found that sending in government extension officers to train in better methods simply does not work. Non-government organisations, however, have a better track record when it comes to working closely with communities. They often use a participative approach, helping people to work out their own solutions to their problems, rather than imposing solutions from the outside. One example is the Green Living Movement, an organisation which is working with the Lala people, slash-and-burn cultivators who live in a remote part of Zambia. In our next report, Emmanuel Mutamba of the Green Living Movement talks to Daniel Sikazwe about how the organisation is working with the Lala people to make their management of the forest more sustainable. IN: ?Basically the Lala people ?? OUT: ??can advise the people properly.? DUR?N 3?46? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Emmanuel Mutamba hoping a better relationship between Zambia?s forest services and indigenous tribes in the future. Transcript Mutamba Basically the Lala people in that area are getting most of their livelihoods from the forest, through the use of ?chitemene? which is a slash-and-burn system of agriculture, which has resurfaced after a while. During the beginning of the 1990s, we saw the chitemene system coming back to life after the government policy changed towards agriculture. People were no longer able to get free inputs through government loans, so they reverted back to what was almost dying, the chitemene system. Now it is in full force and the threat on the forest is quite high. So this is one of the areas that we are really working towards, to help our communities start looking at sustainable management systems. Sikazwe And these sustainable management systems, you work with the community. But then getting those people together requires some very good skills on your part. Just what are some of these specific methods that you are using to work with the community there? Mutamba In this case we are looking at an area where people are cut off from the main areas of economic activity, so you have to really appreciate that their basic life-supporting system circles around the forest, or the natural resources. And while we are trying to help people manage their resources, we also realise that they have to use them. So we have to strike a balance at conservation and utilisation. So basically those are the systems that we are using. But we are going further. We are not just going there to train the people, we are going there to also learn about the difficulties that people are going through. Then when we start learning the difficulties that people are going through, we create a relationship, and once we create a relationship, we start understanding the intra-conflicts that exist in communities and natural resource management. You go there not as an expert, but as a partner with the people. So you give them what you have learned from school, but if it does not work, it does not work, so you revise what you have learned, you start thinking anew. Sikazwe Can you give me an example of one method that you have had to re-do or rethink, as you have said, in the joint forest management? Mutamba Well one of them is the thinking that the chitemene system, for instance, is bad. Just going there and saying, ?The chitemene system is bad! Stop!? is not the best approach. The best approach is that we start looking at why do we say the chitemene system is not sustainable. So we start looking at the issues like the population has increased; it means that we shall have more forest felled in a short period of time, because we are now many. The population has increased, it means that if we all go and attack the forest upstream, which means that the impact on the streams, our water, will be enormous. So you start looking at all these resultants of certain activities. So people start appreciating these issues. Sikazwe Let me take you back a little. You talked about going to live with the community. What exactly do you mean? Mutamba Basically what I mean there is you go and stay there, let?s say for a period of three months up to six months. Sikazwe Do you have specific officers that do that? Mutamba Yes we have got what we call field volunteers. Most of them have got some skills of some kind, we have had even qualified foresters staying with people in the villages. And they train them on new management systems. They also learn of what the indigenous people do to manage the forest. Then together they come up with workable programmes. Now when these volunteers, field volunteers, come out of the field, then they have quite a wealth of knowledge that they have learned themselves from their experiences. And in future we hope that if these people are sort of employed in the mainstream forest department, then we think that we will have people with the right attitudes who can advise the people properly. End of track.