The Zambian and United States governments have recognized the efforts of a local Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) called Monkey Orange Craft’s works in reducing deforestation in Central province.
The organisation is holding an exhibition at the Lusaka National Museum, where it has displayed locally produced crafts and showcased community-based activities that are aimed at fighting deforestation.
USAID Natural Resources Management specialist Rasa Kent noted that Monkey Orange Crafts have found an innovative and inclusive approach to addressing the main drivers of deforestation adding that they have demonstrated that deforestation can be reduced through sustainable outreach to communities and cooperation with government.
She noted that deforestation is a growing concern as Zambia loses approximately 250,000 to 300,000 hectares of forest a year largely due to charcoal production and agricultural expansions.
Ms Kent further disclosed that in addition to the US$500,000 USAID funding for the Various Incentive-based Grant Opportunity and Rewards (VIGOR) activity, the US government through USAID will contribute US$26.7 million towards reducing deforestation and mitigating climate change in Zambia from 2011 to 2019.
Crafts Executive Director Michael Mwandila disclosed that for the past 14 years, Monkey Orange Crafts has been educating rural charcoal producers on the dangers of deforestation and offered them training skills necessary to change professions and become sustainable forest users.
Mr Mwandila stressed that with resources provided by the USAID-funded VIGOR activity, his organization has expanded its education and outreach and
doubled its handicraft output to 20,000 pieces a year.
He commended USAID for supporting community based programmes to reduce deforestation in Zambia.
Zambia is one of the countries with a high rate of deforestation in the world because of the illegal charcoal production, unsustainable agricultural
practices and limited employment opportunities in rural areas.