NEW, WEP Engages Community on alternative, wood-efficient stoves

NEW, WEP Engages Community on alternative, wood-efficient stoves

A community dialogue on forest management and conservation has been held at Ohatekwe-Edda community, Abakaliki Local Government Area of Ebonyi.

The dialogue also featured training on the production of alternative and wood-efficient stoves.

A Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) Neighbourhood Environment Watch (NEW) Foundation, in partnership with the Women Environmental Programme (WEP), under the Green Livelihood Alliance, organised the event.

Dr Kelechi Okezie, Executive Director of NEW-F said that the dialogue was organised to raise awareness about climate change and forest conservation.

He added that the community dialogue was also aimed at strengthening the community’s resolve to mobilise and resist deforestation in their community.

Our correspondent reports that the community dialogue which was interactive brought to the fore the need to conserve the remaining forests in the area especially the ‘Ndiode and Ofia Eze’ forests.

According to participants, the two major forests in the area were seriously threatened due to population pressure on land for agriculture, building materials and fuel wood.

Okezie educated the community on sustainable forest management practices and climate change impact mitigation and adaptation strategies.

He stressed that with climate change, rural communities such as theirs, the elderly, sick, children and women were most vulnerable to climate change impact.

He listed the benefits of forests including; fresh air and sequestering of carbon dioxide, home to many animals and organisms, providing incomes, and herbs for medicines.

The environmentalist said that other benefits of forests include; the mitigation of impacts of climate change, serving as revered traditional religious centres with eco-religious memories, preventing soil erosion and conserving soil nutrients among others.

“I charge the community members to be intentional in safeguarding their forests and ensure yearly planting of trees,” Okezie said.

Meanwhile, the traditional ruler of Ohatekwe-Edda, Ezeogo Godwin Nwankwegu, said that changes in the climatic conditions were already affecting the people adversely.

“Our livelihood, health and economic well-being are seriously affected by climate change due to the impact of the people’s activities through cutting down of trees without replanting and other negative activities of the people,” he said.

The traditional ruler urged his subjects to collaborate to preserve the existing forests in the area and warned against bush burning.

“The existing byelaws that prohibit unauthorised access to the forests and bush burning will be strengthened to punish offenders,” he added.

Another participant, Chief è⁶Michael Udenwe, former Coordinator of Enyidda Development Centre, said that the area was once blessed with thick forest canopies and that the people enjoyed all the gifts of nature unhindered.

He, however, lamented the extinction of indigenous plant species that provided roots and herbs for their health and well-being.

He lamented that lots of the trees had been cut down and that the people were suffering the adverse effects of climate change.

“Now, hunger, malnutrition and poverty have set in due to the unsustainable practices and use of lands in the area,” Udenwe said.

He urged the people to go back to tree planting as a panacea to survive the adverse effects of climate change.

Others who spoke at the occasion stressed the importance of tree planting and shunning all acts that could endanger the remaining existing forests in the community.

Meanwhile, Cynthia Oru, Gender Communications Officer (GCO), of NEW-F highlighted the negative health impact of indoor cooking with fuelwood stressing the dire health impact of such indoor cooking.

She stressed that indoor cooking with limited ventilation was a silent killer, especially for women and children who are exposed to respiratory diseases such as asthma.

She listed other health effects including pneumonia, headache, dizziness, heart disease and cancer.

“Cooking in ill-ventilated areas, especially with the use of firewood should be discouraged,” Oru said.

The highlight of the dialogue was the training of the participants in the use of wood-conservative cooking alternatives such as the use of rice husks, saw clouds of dust and solar cooking stoves to prepare their meals.

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