The Post (Lusaka)

Zambia: Deforestation On Mbabala Island Worries Sakeni

Lusaka — PEOPLE on Mbabala and Chishi islands on Lake Bangweulu are using grass to cook their food, Luapula Province minister Kennedy Sakeni has said.

In an interview, Sakeni, who is also Chifunabuli member of parliament, said the two islands have virtually become deserts because people have cut all the trees for wood and that there had been no programme of afforestation in place to address the problem.

He hoped under the Luapula Province Forest Action Programme sponsored by the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), trees would be planted on the two islands including Chilubi Island in Northern Province, which had similar problems.

"People are now using grass to cook food, you know it takes several hours to cook food so people have to collect heaps and heaps of grass," Sakeni said.

He said although planting trees was a solution, people should be thinking of providing hydro electricity as a long-term solution.

He explained that power lines going to Chilubi Island passed through Mbabala Island and that the government was expected to electrify the island.

Sakeni said Zesco has since done an assessment of electrifying the island and that the programme would cost K104 million.

He said the Luapula River had a lot of potential for hydro electricity generation.

"The potential, especially at Kuku Bridge and Chembe in Milenge District, can be realised if we worked together with our colleagues in the Democratic Republic of Congo because we share the same waters," Sakeni said.

"These are the regional initiatives we should be talking about."

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