By Pauline Mbukwa, Self Help Africa
Pasani Hill is found in T/A Mkanda; Group Village Headman Mkawera in Mulanje. The hill is surrounded by five villages which are Mkawera, Muliya, Mkwera, Harrineck and Nkhunguza. The natural beauty that the hill had has all faded with the careless cutting of trees by people in the community.
When smallholder farmers were asked on what KULIMA BETTER Project could do to address shortage of trees for different use and massive gully erosion at Pasani Hill and in fields found in these villages, they all agreed that the project should help them in the reforestation of Pasani Hill.
The chairperson of Pasani Cluster Catchment Committee, Bornwell Ntumwinda recalls how their hearts were sweetened with gladness when KULIMA BETTER Project agreed to help them in the restoration of the lost glory of trees which Pasani was known for a decade ago.
To ensure that there is cooperation, committees of 12 members were formed in each of the five villages. These committees together with village headmen formed Pasani Catchment Cluster Committee that has 67 members.
The cluster committee has since planted 20,000 trees Mulanje. While most of the trees for example Acacia Galpinii and Acacia Polyacantha are to hold the soil against heavy runoffs caused by rains, other trees have been planted to improve levels of soil nutrients in the hill. Farmers are encouraged to plant Tephrosia vogeli in their fields to improve soil fertility which is achieved by applying tree leaves .
“About 40 thousand trees are expected to be planted in this hill. We are still nurturing our planted trees. KULIMA BETTER Project gave us working tools which we use in the caring of the planted trees.” said Ntumwinda.
Village headman Muliya is leading in conducting meeting together with Pasani Catchment Cluster Committee, encouraging people to be committed in the reforestation of the hill. Village headman Muliya with other chiefs has after consulting Mulanje District Council formed by-laws as one way of sustaining the newly budding forest of Pasani Hill.
“We once arrested a fellow committee member who was cutting down trees in the hill and in our graveyard. He was later requested to pay a fine of which he failed. This forced the Village Security Forum which work hand in hand with Pasani Cluster Catchment Committee, to take his bicycle temporarily untill he pays the fine.” said Village Headman Muliya.
All these measures are being done to protect the hill so that the future generation will benefit from the fruits.
The committee is planning to start bee keeping as one way of protecting the hill from deforestation caused by illegal cutting down of trees in the hill. This will also generate income for the committee thereby empowering its members’ income.
Small check dams using soil-filled sack bags were used last year to reclaim gully erosions which massively eroded soil both at Pasani Hill and nearby fields. A total of 2000 soil-filled sack bags were used in this activity. Rebecca Benjamin can indeed testify how this gully reclamation technic has reduced soil erosion and maintain silt in her maize garden which is close to Pasani Hill.
“At first I thought the technique of using soil-filled sack bags to reclaim soil was useless but now l have seen the benefits. I will be using it every year” said Rebecca Benjamin.
These are just a few of the fruits from an initiative that is less than a year old. Fast forward to 2021 there is hope that the trees planted will benefit the community and in the near future it will indeed offer shade to a young men and women with friends studying in the hill, in the next generation as Henderson said in his day.