Thursday, February 23, 2012

Loans to Change Deforestation on Mbabala Island

Mbabala Island, Zambia — Zambia is one of the highest rated countries for deforestation, in fact, it is ranked in the top five. Why?

  • 1)  Increasing demand for firewood and charcoal, especially in urban populations.
  • 2)  Charcoal making and slash-and-burn farming yield short-term gains, but long-term destruction of the environment.
  • Rural families are quite literally burning through their children’s inheritance.

Bright Hope recently began work on Mbabala Island in Zambia and found the island to be a devastating example of the impacts of deforestation. With just over 5,000 people living on the island, all of the trees, except for a few fruit varieties have been chopped down. The expense of importing wood from the mainland is high. Families who can’t afford to buy wood make a five mile walk around the island looking for scrap to burn.

Many resort to burning grass, which results in under-cooked food and poor or no water sterilization. Poor hygiene is also an issue as bathing is reduced when only cold water is available. The standard of living declines because families spend the majority of their money on firewood instead of food, school and clothing.

Fortunately, with a little education and ingenuity, the situation on Mbabala Island can be reversed. Working through island churches loans will be provided to help people plant tree farms. The loans will enable poor families to plant a multitude of trees that are fast-growing and great for use as building materials.

Changing lives by providing a microloan is a simple and effective way to lift people out of poverty without giving handouts and creating dependency.