Just a week after the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Management called for intensified forestation efforts, Local Government Minister Rachel Mazombwe Zulu has reiterated the call by advising district councils to allocate more funds towards similar projects.
Speaking on Friday in Kasungu when she presided over a consultative meeting on the disbursement of Local Development Funds at the district council headquarters, Zulu urged councils to take advantage of the rainy season to implement the projects.
“Of course, it’s true that we have deliberately emphasised to them [district councils] to consider prioritising aforestation projects within the current funding,” said Mazombwe.
“We are committed as government to help restore the country’s forests which have dwindled drastically over the recent years. And it’s not too late to correct the wrongs.”
Kasungu district Council has since been granted close to K252 million (about $630 000) in this year’s LDF disbursements which District Commissioner Sphiwe Mauwa said targets about 21 000 beneficiaries in the district.
“Eighty percent of the funds, which is around K201 million (about $502 500), will go towards wages for the 20 976 targeted beneficiaries while the remainder will be for logistical purposes,” added Mauwa.
The council has also since outlined road improvement works, construction of fish ponds and stocking of fingerings, dam and reservoir maintenance, environmental sanitation and various land resource activities as some of the projects for implementation in the latest funding.
According to the ministry, this year’s LDF disbursements has seen it depart from the traditional ‘four phase’ funding plan as from this season onwards, councils will be implementing their projects in two phases only.
For instance, Kasungu District Council says its two phases will now cover the February, to April period.
Commenting on the development, Mauwa said: “As a council, we are comfortable with the new arrangement. Actually, we can say our funding has improved this year when it is taken into the two-phase plan, but in the context of the previous four-phase scheme, we can say it has somehow shrunk.”
Mauwa explained under the old system, the council was assigned K90 million each phase per year while this time around, it will use K125 per each of the two phases.
She nevertheless, thanked the Fund for keeping the faith in the council, and she since pledged diligence in using the funding to help achieve its set goals.
According to the Local Government Ministry, beneficiaries in the Public Works Programme stand to earn K3 600 (about $9) each in the 12 days’ maximum period allowed for participation in the works as daily wages is at K300 per individual.