Chisomo CBO Combats Deforestation, Empowers Communities with Financial Literacy Skills
Chisomo Community Based Organisation is leading efforts in Masambuka village to address floods caused by deforestation-Mathews Mwantani.
Malawi: In response to recent floods caused by deforestation in Masambuka village, Traditional Authority Malemia in Zomba district, Chisomo Community Based Organisation (CBO) is leading the charge for environmental conservation interventions and financial literacy training to promote community sustainability and reduce reliance on forests, writes Mathews Mwantani.
For years, locals have been relying on the forests, cutting down trees for firewood and charcoal to sell for basic needs, causing massive deforestation and contributing to the effects of climate change like floods.
Chisomo CBO was established in 2018 to address socio-economic problems such as deforestation, gender-based violence, and economic empowerment, and now boasts 13 female and 8 male members.
The CBO has taught women and youth how to make and use briquettes as a replacement for charcoal and firewood, how to make soap, and learn tailoring skills for economic empowerment. Chisomo CBO Director Bebrey Mtomwa noted that they began implementing these interventions in 2022.
“As Chisomo CBO, we noticed how people were too dependent on charcoal and firewood businesses, destroying trees in the process and exposing the community to floods, heavy winds, land degradation, and siltation,” said Mtomwa.
The CBO also takes care of Masambuka, Kanyesi, and Mamu forests, planting trees to re-afforest them and training community members on proper tree care and firebreaks.
Beneficiary Jessica Malemia noted the positive impact on her community since the implementation of these interventions.
“We have had different climate change crises previously in our community, we have lost the lives of fellow community members due to floods, which were hitting us hard as we had destroyed trees in our hills. Since we started implementing these interventions from Chisomo CBO there has been a great change and many of us have benefited a lot as we have restored a larger part of the environment,” said Malemia.
Youth member Sheriff Dawa explained that he no longer engages in harmful charcoal production and is now busy with other income-generating activities, such as soap and briquette making and tailoring.
Environmental expert Dominic Nyasulu praised Chisomo CBO's efforts and encouraged other communities to follow their lead.
“What Chisomo CBO is doing is a good development, communities need to embrace local solutions to climate change crises without waiting for NGOs and government to intervene,” said Nyasulu.