Environmental Education activities arising from lozi people`s implementation of the waterrowl cropping system in the upper Zambezi wetlands of western Zambia
Sumbwa, Pumulo Walubita
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This study was prompted by the desire to determine the extent to which the waterfowl cropping practice of the Lozi speaking people of western Zambia conserved waterfowl of the Upper Zambezi wetlands popularly called the Barotse plains. The study focused on investigating reasons for the practice of waterfowl cropping locally called ku-loba sitaka as well as to determine what needed to be done educationally in order to sustain the practice. The latter point at first involved getting and harnessing local people's suggestions and views.This was by way of getting them to respond to research questions which were (a) how does the Lo/i practice of breaking the reed cluster ku-loba sitaka (waterfowl cropping) operate? (b) is the practice sustainable in view of the growing population? (c) what Environmental Education (EE) activities should be designed to ensure the sustainability of waterfowl, wetlands and local people's lifestyles and (d) to what extent are the local people involved in managing waterfowl and wetlands in the study area. All these questions hinged on the set objectives of the study which were: to investigate how the practice of ku-loba sitaka (waterfowl cropping) operated, to assess how sustainable the practice was in view of the growing population in the study area, to propose Environmental Education activities that would ensure the sustainability of the practice and waterfowl as well as to determine the level of participation of local communities in the sustainable conservation of waterfowl and wetlands of the study area.The research design was both qualitative and quantitative. A total of 50 people responded to either the questionnaire or interview. The questionnaire was answered by men who physically got involved in the practice while the interview sought the opinion of both men and women concerning the practice. Those who were interviewed never had the opportunity of getting to the site when cropping waterfowl.Among the main findings were that the sustainability of waterfowl in the study area was not attainable due to the indiscriminate poaching, reed cutting and even fires on the research sites (wetlands) This was coupled with the growing population around the study area. The study showed that before Zambia Wildlife Authority (/AWA) took over the responsibility of overseeing the wetland areas called bird sanctuaries from the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE), it was every indigenous person's concern to preserve both the waterfowl and the wetlands. But at the time of this research in the year 2007, ZAWA had no effective ability to monitor illegal activities taking place against the bird sanctuaries of the study. This inability ranged from lack of sufficient workforce to transport. As a result of the findings of this study, the following recommendations are made. The Barotse Royal Establishment and Zambia Wildlife Authority should work closely together in matters of conserving the local natural resources in general and the bird sanctuaries in particular. It is important for the stakeholders to ensure that when giving land to investors for development, sensitive places like wetlands should by all means be spared.This is in view of the research finding that the growing population contributed to the waterfowl decline. It is also important to have sustained Environmental Educational campaigns and sensitization programmes for the local people on the need for them to conserve and use the wetland and waterfowl of the study area in a sustainable manner. The study has made specific proposals for such environmental education activities in chapter six.In conclusion, the study highlights the great need for everyone to get actively involved in the conservation of waterfowl and wetlands of the study area. This may help to improve the highly diminished lifestyles of the local Lozi people.