An evaluation of environmental education methods implemented among refugees at Kala refugee camp, Kawambwa

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Chipili, Jethrow
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Environmental stability and sustainability are pre-requisites for development. As a result recent times have seen a rise in investment, both in terms of financial and human resources, in the management of the environment by many governments around the world. It is, however, not possible to talk about environmental sustainability without talking about Environmental Education (EE). Environmental Education is a key component in ensuring the sustainable management of the environment. Environmental Education is also very essential in relief operations. Refugee operations are a good example of such relief operations that need integration of Environmental Education. In Zambia, World Vision Zambia (WVZ) an international Non- Governmental Organization in 2001 took up the task to provide EE to refugees at two refugee camps, namely, Mwange camp in Mporokoso and Kala camp in Kawambwa district.This study focused on evaluating the Environmental Education methods that were being implemented among refugees at Kala camp by World Vision Zambia through its Agriculture and Natural Resources sector. The study was undertaken because of the realization that if the environment on which the refugees solely depended for their resources is destroyed, it would result into a potential area of conflict as the refugees might start encroaching on land for the locals to get their much-needed resources.There were various methods that were employed in the collection of data for the study.Data collection methods included the use of observations, both participant and nonparticipant and interview schedules (questionnaires). Data was also collected from focus group discussions as well as from the review of literature related to the study.The term environment in the studv was looked at as meaning everv thing that surrounds man/woman including the natural, economic as well as social and political, and their interrelationships and therefore when talking about the environment at Kala; it is within this context that this study does so. The study endeavors to give a distinction between education which is usually understood to mean the lifelong process that an individual goes through to learn new ideas and EE which is understood to be the multidisciplinary education that incorporates various fields to enable the learner acquire new awareness and concern for the planet needed to protect and improve the environment. The study describes EE for refugees as being a special component of any refugee relief operation.The state of the art on educating refugees was that at Kala camp, there were several EE methods that were being employed by WVZ to educate the refugees about the environment. These methods were; field based EE, use of billboards around the camp, workshops and seminars and the use of demonstrations. The main findings of the evaluation are that there was a rise in the number of refugees who had become aware of environmental issues. However, the rise was not significant as most of the respondents showed lack of interest in environmental issues. The respondents did not take environmental issues as a matter of priority. Culture was also identified as a major barrier to the participation of many refugees in the EE process. There was a lack of programs targeted at the youths who were not in school although they were in the majority compared to those that were in school. The study makes some recommendations on the additional EE methods that could be employed at the camp to increase participation levels and raise awareness levels among the refugees. Recommendations made in light of the findings of the evaluation are that the use of role-playing could be used to increase awareness and using video shows on environmental issues to stir interest in matters of the environment. Other recommendations made were, the introduction of a monthly/quarterly magazine on the environment and extension of field-based EE to other sectors other than the agriculture sector.
Environmental education -- Zambia , Refugees -- Zambia