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Posted Fri Sep 11 2009: from IRIN News (UN):
MALAWI: Mayi Chambo, 'We have destroyed a lot in a short period'
Degradation of the environment is reaching alarming levels in Nkaya in southern Malawi, where people have to walk ever greater distances to collect firewood and water. Mayi Chambo, a village head in Nkaya, blamed charcoal makers for the deforestation. This is her story. "In the 1980s we had lush forests here. The rains used to come in time, the soil was fertile and water was not a problem. It was after 1994 when we started experiencing problems that have to do with the environment. People from other areas began settling here in search for fertile soil and products from our forests. "Soon the trees started to disappear -- people wanted rafters for their newly built houses. Even the demand for fuel wood increased because the population had also increased. People began to clear forests for new fields.... "They are lured by the money they generate from selling charcoal in the cities, especially in Blantyre [Malawi's second city]. But should we let these people destroy everything because of a bag of charcoal that costs K500 (US$3.57) only? That is not acceptable.... "If we continue to destroy our forests at the pace we are going, we will soon have a desert here. The signs are already showing. We do not get the rains in good time, and when we have the rains they are always associated with flooding. The soil needs a lot of fertilizer for the crops to produce, but how many families can afford fertilizer here? Most of us are poor. "We have destroyed a lot in a short period of time and we are paying heavily for that."
[Read more stories about: death spiral, overpopulation, forests, faster than expected, lived experience]

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