ZAMBIA TACKLES ACCESS TO SAFE WATER AS WWF ZAMBIA CALLS FOR FOREST RESTORATION.

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SUN REPORTER

PROVISION of provision of clean and safe drinking water and adequate sanitation services plays a critical role in the prevention of water borne diseases, Water Development, Sanitation and Environmental Protection Minister Raphael Nakachinda has said.

Zambia yesterday joined the rest of the World in commemorating the United Nations International Day of Forests (IDF) under the theme: “Forest restoration: a path to recovery and well-being”. The theme is a timely wake-up call to the people of Zambia and the World to act decisively and stop deforestation by embarking on forest restoration to secure our waters and provide the much-needed livelihood support to attain human-well-being.

He said that Government has continued to place a high premium on universal access to clean water and adequate sanitation.

Mr. Nakachinda further said government through his ministry has made steady progress in ensuring that rural parts of Zambia have access to clean water and adequate sanitation services.

He said government remains committed to the attainment of universal access to clean water and adequate sanitation services in line with the Vison 2030.

Climate change has seen unprecedented droughts and floods that has impacted negatively on many already impoverished citizens, bringing about hunger, poverty and disease.

As the cities of Africa and tropical Asia continue to swell, there are huge opportunities to produce fuelwood, charcoal, timber, medicinal plants, bamboo and many other forest products to sell to urban dwellers. Producing these products in a sustainable way could create millions of jobs, right now when they are needed the most for local economies to begin to recover from the pandemic.

Africa currently gets almost 89% of its energy from fuelwood, charcoal, and agricultural residues. If done well, that could be a major boon, rather than environmental disaster.

But a pathway for getting there is only realistic if it involves stronger farmer organisation, with more support from government, funders and NGOs. That is the only viable “path to recovery and wellbeing”, the theme of this year’s International Day of Forests on 21 March.

In this ‘super year’ that embraces global ambition to accelerate climate action, protect bio-diversity and tackle rising inequalities, let’s make this is a super year for restoring our forests, enabling the world’s forest and farm producers to thrive.

In line with the commmeoration of the day, the World Wide Fund for Nature Zambia (WWF Zambia) has also made an appeal for

In this context, Zambia’s forests have the potential to keep and possibly increase their contribution to these needs in the coming years.

The International Day of Forests (IDF) theme for 2021 also resonates with the African Forest Landscape Restoration one hundred (AFR100) and Bonn Challenge initiatives where Zambia committed to restoring 2 million hectares of degraded and deforested land by 2030.

Following this commitment, Zambia became the 31st African country to join the AFR100 pledging to restore degraded and deforested areas through the Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR) Project funded by BMZ/EG Germany. WWF Zambia is implementing the program in close collaboration with the Forestry Department, Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources.

With the highest deforestation rate in Africa and ranked fifth globally, Zambia’s forests are in a dynamic state with a high degradation rate which should be stopped. On average, about 270,000 hectares of Zambia’s forests is cleared annually. This can be attributed to agriculture and settlement expansion, Infrastructure and mining development, Increased demand for wood energy from charcoal, leading to a regular and significant increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions impacting the country’s environment in general.  For instance, the Agriculture, Forestry, and Other land use (AFOLU) sector alone were responsible for 120,507.7 Gg of CO2e of GHG emissions in 2010 (TNC, 2020). Further, Zambia’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) agreement of 2015 on climate change response committed to reducing 28,000 Gigagrams (Gg) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), which translates to 47% (internationally supported efforts) against 2010 as a base year. It will cost Zambia not less than US$50 billion by 2030 to implement the required mitigation actions such as forest restoration and other adaptation measures to reduce these GHG emissions.

Forests play a crucial role in providing multiple benefits for citizens. Forests are our pharmacy and food source in times of hunger and food shortages amongst communities. Not only do we derive forest products, but we also benefit from other ecosystem services, including water protection, recreation, clean air, biodiversity, and scenic and cultural value. Wood is a renewable raw material used in construction, furniture, pulp and paper, and energy. It also serves as a substitute for non-renewable raw materials and energy. Forests deliver health and job opportunities to a million people and strongly support the country’s economic growth. Permanently losing forests means losing the range of services they provide. These realities have happened in some areas already. We, therefore, have to limit the loss of our remaining forests and promote sustainable use and sustainable management of forest. We call on the government to arrest the blunt forest crimes across the country and close the illegal forest products trade.

World Vision Zambia National Director John Hasse in a telvision programme insisted on the link between community interaction woth natural resources and access to safe water.

World Vision in Zambia actively engages with community members to promote good hygiene behaviours.

The international Christian organisation has drilled over 400 boreholes, rehabilitated over 230, and provided 36 water systems to various communities, schools, and health facilities. This alone provided water to 232,000 people across the country.

“Together with the community, we work to educate people on good hygiene and promote long-lasting healthy habits. Water is essential to sanitation and hygiene promotion in households,” World Vision Zambia reports.

In collaboration with community members, World Vision provides Water Sanitation and Hygiene services in healthcare facilities and schools, ensuring that these places have access to clean water, dignified toilets, and appropriate handwashing facilities.

According to a statement issued by WWF Zambia Isabel Mukelabai, Government Relations & Strategic Partnerships Manager has said forest loss, water insecurity that results from climate change effects on everyone; we call on business leaders and traditional leaders to join the forest restoration efforts to contribute to our shared sustainability efforts.

WWF Zambia has urged the government to fast-track large-scale forest restoration implementation in deforested areas for the massive forests and related livelihood opportunities we have lost over the years. Efforts must go beyond tree planting to reverse the impacts and achieve the forest cover we need to minus climate change impacts

Zambia loses approximately 276,000 ha of its forest cover annually largely due to charcoal burning and unsustainable development. This has implications for the quality of air we breathe, the availability of water to drink and our biodiversity.

Our forests are said to be like our lungs, so we need to keep them flourishing.

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