Nature for Water
We have every reason to ensure our beautiful Lake Malawi is kept clean and bustling with life. It provides food, livelihoods, drinking water and power for millions. It is also one of our major tourist attractions.
On this World Water Day, Malawians have to reflect on how our actions and inactions are having adverse consequences on this valuable resource. Over recent years the water levels and quality in the lake have significantly decreased. The finger of blame has been pointed to successive poor rainy seasons. But it would be unfair to not also point the finger of blame at ourselves.
If the state of rivers like Lilongwe, which flow into the lake, is anything to go by then we are complicit in the slow death of our lake of stars. When we are not actively stripping the river banks of sand and vegetation, we are choking them with garbage and wastewater. The soils are failing to hold any moisture because of constant cultivation along river banks leading to heavy siltation. Ground cover, both next to the river banks and upland, is almost non-existent. We are our own worst enemy!
The theme for World Water Day this year is ‘Nature for Water’ and explores how we can use nature-based solutions to fix the challenges we face with water in the 21st century.
The solutions are well documented and known. Planting more trees. Reducing human activity – cultivation, sand mining and even housing construction – along river banks to create a vegetation buffer. Responsible disposal of waste away from waterways. These solutions are not expensive to implement. They do however require effort from every citizen of the land.
We fly out to attend international conferences on climate change. We hold round table discussions and symposiums at lakeshore resorts. We release statements and produce glossy reports. Then we come back and turn a blind eye to the degradation and contamination happening outside our very homes and offices.
Our treasure trove – Lake Malawi and it’s nearly 700 fish species – is dying slowly. And we will all live to regret the day that happens. So much is at stake if we continue to look away and pretend the world will heal itself faster than we are destroying it. It won’t!
It’s time for action. And it starts with me. It starts with you. If your government won’t take the lead or your representative won’t do it, do it yourself. Take the lead! Plant those trees. Practise responsible farming. Dispose of your waste more responsibly. Recycle what you can. Tell your workers and relatives to do the same. Tweet about it. Talk about it on Facebook. Bombard your Whatsapp groups with this simple but important message. Call out your wayward neighbour if you have to. It’s for the good of all mankind after all.
It’s our land and our lake! Let’s heal it!
Photo Credit: Traveling Otter