President Peter Mutharika on Wednesday launched the 2019/20 National Forestry Season in Mulanje with a call for all Malawians to support the government in planting trees and managing forests as one way to fight impacts of Climate Change.
The Malawian leaders Professor Mutharika said global warming and climate change are taking a toll on human lives.
“We used to have our rainy season beginning in October. Now rains are coming as late as December or January and they are not reliable. At many times, we have drought, leading to food shortages. Climate Change is having devastaing effects,” said President Mutharika.
He said planting trees and managing forests can help mitigate the impacts of Climate Change in Malawi.
“Forests give us the fresh air we need to live. Forests protect the land where we grow our crops from degradation. Forests are sources of rivers where we get water to irrigate our crops, use in our homes and produce electricity.
Forests give us timber for construction and wood for cooking and heating. Forests bring rain for our farms. Forests protect our lives from floods,” he said, urging people to not only plant trees but also manage them.
President Mutharika launched Malawi’s forests season two weeks after he addressed the world at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Madrid, Spain.
In a speech highly commended by global leaders, Mutharika affirmed that the effects of climate change are being felt everywhere today.
The Malawi leader noted that everywhere, climate change is taking innocent lives, frustrating national economies and inflicting untold suffering to many people of the world.
He described Climate Change as “the most catastrophic tragedy of our time”.
“Man is at war with nature. Climate change has become the most catastrophic tragedy of our time. In scale, this is a catastrophe that is more colossal than any war known to us,” said Mutharika.
He told the world that Malawi is reeling from the impacts of Climate Change.
In 2015, Malawi had drought that was immediately followed by heavy rains and floods. Crops failed, infrastructure destroyed and people died.
In 2016, Malawi had floods. Crops failed, infrastructure destroyed and lives lost.
In the 2017/2018 growing season, crops were destroyed by fall armyworms, which are climate change related because these worms thrive in dry spells.
In March this year, Malawi was hit by Cyclone Idai and Cyclone Kenneth.
About 1 million people were directly affected and 60 lives were lost while 672 were injured.
President Mutharikan, who also spoke on behalf of the 47 Least Developed Countries, observed that Malawi would have made more economic progress without the setbacks of climate change.
“This is the double tragedy of the developing world. The weaker the economy, the more fragile the existence of our vulnerable people, and the more we suffer the shocks of climate change.
The more a weak economy suffers the shocks of climate change, the more we lack resources to fight climate change,” said Mutharika whose address receieved special coverage by the BBC.
Speaking at Mkando on Wednesday, President Mutharika noted that as government makes efforts to restore Malawi’s forests to support people against Climate Change effects, there are some people who sabotage law enforcement against those destroying forests. He warned against the behaviour.
“Let me also warn those who illegally harvest trees from our protected areas that you will meet the full force of the law,” said Mutharika.
Before speaking to the crowd, Mutharika planted mango and Mulanje Cedar tree at the new Thuchila Health Centre.
Ironically, the new health centre came about because the previous facility was damaged by floods in January 2015.