Within the Sandwe chiefdom in Petauke district of Eastern province, 19 community members were trained in gender issues, communication, advocacy, disability mainstreaming and community-led sustainable forest management strategies. This was done under the ‘Community-led Sustainable Forest Management Project that is funded by the FACT project under Counterpart. The project is being implemented in Sandwe chiefdom, Petauke district, Eastern province.
The training was a preparation for the peer educators to hold community sensitisation meetings in their areas and participants were from five areas of the chiefdoms namely; Sopa, Mwanika, Chizarila, Msapenda and Msanzala. During the training, Women for Change animators engaged the community members-turned- new peer educators in issues of gender analysis, gender based violence, traditional myths on gender/sex, women’s access to land, leadership, socio-environmental accountability, and collaboration with forest officers. The participants were also trained in use of advocacy tools like citizen score cards, protest marches, use of lobbying or advocacy meetings as a way of empowering them to fight against deforestation in their areas.
Depletion of forests increases poverty, even though in some instances the depletion of forest is also a result of poverty but ultimately it reduces food security, limits access to water and sources of energy hence WfC’s deliberate efforts to avert some of the named challenges. Lack of rain can cause more suffering to women and children who are then compelled to walk longer distances to fetch water, look for food and also can result in diseases such as diarrhea and malnutrition among others.
The objective, therefore, of the project is to avert this or mitigate the effect through equipping women and men of Sandwe with knowledge and skills in Community-led Sustainable Forest Management that leave no one behind. During such trainings, WfC also uses Popular Education Methodology (PEM) tools to actively engage participants in the issues and generate local knowledge that is critical to addressing most of the challenges. The tools use hands-on activities, inclusive dialogue, and empowering techniques so that the communities can see themselves as informed leaders. The peer educators were encouraged to use the PEM tools going forward when they train others in their communities because it makes the issues easily understood by all, irrespective of their literacy, background, or educational attainment.