16 March 2014

Malawi: 'Effiecient Energy Use to Reclaim Forest'

Government says efficient use of energy at household level can contribute greatly to the rehabilitation of the country's diminishing forests and good health among people in the country.

Speaking at the close of the third annual Discover Open Day for Cleaner cook stoves in Lilongwe, on Friday, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Mining, Wilfred Masanjala, said programmes that promote natural resource development like the improved cook stoves were appropriate for the Nation.

"Energy for cooking makes up the bulk of the crucial household energy needs because most households rely on either firewood or charcoal for household use and due to that our forests are decreasing," he said.

He said there was need for all households in Malawi to have efficient cooking technologies at their disposal

Masanjala stressed the need for government's commitment to address the challenges that the country is facing in terms of energy.

"The cleaner cook stoves programme has raised the profile of women by easing their work in food preparation, they do not have to walk long distances to collect firewood and their health is better because they do not have to inhale a lot of smoke during food preparation," Masanjala said.

He said it was the desire of President Dr. Joyce Banda to see that by 2020 about two million households in the country use improved cook stoves.

In January last year, Malawi committed as a national partner to the Global Alliance for Clean Cook stoves and established the National Cook stoves Task Force tosupport organisation throughout the country in scaling up access to improved cook stoves.

Principal Secretary for the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, Dr. Yanira Mtupanyama, concurred with Masajnala that cleaner cooking stoves have the potential in helping to replenish the fast declining nature resources Malawi is losing due to deforestation.

"As a country, we are losing our natural resources due to rapid deforestation. We are slowly silting our Lake Malawi as a result of the heavy erosions that are taking place due to cutting down of trees, " she said.

"Imagine a situation where we can lose our Lake Malawi, where Malawi's pride and chief source of protein can be worn out, there is need for us to slow down and stop the waste that we are creating and one way of achieving this is using cleaner cooking stoves," she added.

Village Headman of Pengapenga from T/A Makwangwala in Ntcheu district condemned the wanton cutting down of trees.

"Most people in my area have opted to using cleaner cook stoves in their households as a result bare land in my area is slowly turning into forest.

"I can tell you that out of the 18 villages under my authority, 100 percent of households in six villages use cleaner cook stoves, while the majority of the households in the other villages use these stoves, "she said.

She said the initiative has also created employment for people in her area.

Since 2012, DISCOVER has brought together stakeholders of cleaner cook stoves to learn, share experiences and enhance their knowledge of improved cooking technologies in an intensive three-day training session that is concluded with an open day.

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