Education is at the heart of any successful conservation programme and NVT UK funds an environmental education programme in northern Malawi, operated by The Lilongwe Wildlife Trust. LWT teach communities, through schools, the importance of the environment and the harmful consequences of poaching, deforestation and killing animals that raid crops. The programme also funds training of local magistrates in wildlife law (leading to greater enforcement), and is looking at ways to replace the income that communities earn through lucrative trade in bush meat and edible orchids.
Phase 1: May 2016-April 2019
Training modules and materials were developed on three themes: wildlife conservation and welfare, human-wildlife conflict, and wildlife crime. LWT education officers trained school teachers to deliver the modules and help the schools set up wildlife clubs. Children have been motivated by visits to the Nyika plateau for their first experience of Malawi’s precious wildlife. In Rumphi District children from over 31 schools have enjoyed spreading the word about conservation with songs, drama, debate, marches and banners. Cooperation is important and this programme has involved the Department of National Parks & Wildlife officers working with Natural Resource Committees and community leaders who have a wide influence.
Since the Malawi government changed its wildlife legislation to jail people caught poaching, with no option of a fine, the message has got through and this tough approach is having the required effect in reducing poaching numbers. This first phase has been making a positive difference, but there is more work to do.
Phase 2: May 2019-April 2022
Phase 2 continued conservation education in the north of Malawi, expanding outside Rumphi District to schools in Mzimba and Chitipa Districts. Two additional modules were developed covering conservation agriculture, and natural forest management, afforestation, reforestation and agroforestry, with the main aim of improving seedling and tree survival rates.
The programme also expanded to cover activities in the community. These included forming a Wildlife Club in Rumphi prison, and assisitng ex poachers in setting up income generating projects on their release.
Our support for this programme came to an end in March 2022 and is being continued under the auspices of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Education Team.
Incorporating Environmental Education into the National Primary School Curriculum 2022- 23
The Malawi Government has now formally recognised the importance of Environmental Education and is now working towards its inclusion in the curriculum for all primary schools.
A key part of the Nyika Vwaza Trust programme was the development of material to be used in the primary schools in the project area. LWT have been requested by the Ministry of Education to adapt this material for use across the whole country. We have agreed to fund the initial phases of this work over the next 12 months, by when the material will have been adapted to meet the curriculum requirements and trailed in the communities around Nyika and Vwaza.
The conservation education programme will continue to be assessed annually, so that lessons are learned from work done and focus is on the most cost-effective use of resources.