DOREEN NAWA, Lusaka
PANOS Institute Southern Africa (PSAf) has called on Government to address the limited access to extension services which is hindering sustainable management of the environment and natural resources at community level.
Zambia has adopted the community-based natural resources management (CBNRM) approach to achieve environmental sustainability.
In this approach, the provision of extension services has been identified as one of the key ways to effective CBNRM as part of environmental sustainability.
This is contained in a statement by PSAf executive director Lilian Kiefer released yesterday.
Ms Kiefer said while Government policies identify the provision of extension services as one of the mechanisms for strengthening environmental sustainability, many community members do not have access to extension services.
“This absence of extension services leaves community members without the much-needed guidance and backstopping support in the management of natural resources,” Ms Kiefer said.
She said this has adversely affected sustainability of community level interventions for sustainable management of the environment and natural resources, especially in fisheries, agriculture and forestry.
Ms Kiefer said the availability of extension services is an important factor in the success of CBNRM activities as they create a channel through which experts can share information and impart skills on specific sustainable management of the environment and natural resources practices with community members.
She said limited access to extension services limits innovation among community members, forcing them to make the same mistakes, and thereby perpetuating unsustainable management of the environment and natural resources practices and environmental degradation.
PSAf has also called on Government to urgently address the limited extension services challenge faced by rural communities if environmental sustainability is to be achieved in the country.
“A starting point towards this would be for the government to improve the funding and staffing for departments that provide extension services to enhance their capacity to provide the required extension services to communities,” Ms Kiefer said.