By Chancy Namadzunda:
Hikers from three clubs in the country are set to introduce Tourism and Nature Conservation Clubs in Secondary Schools across Malawi.
Called Outdoor Outreach Adventure, the initiative is a brainchild of Team Adventure (Kondwani Chamwala), Hikers Alliance (Austin Mndolo) and Adventures With Colby (Colby Mughogho
According to the Chairperson of the Initiative, Chamwala, the project links with Kilimanjaro hike as fundraising for the initiative and commemoration of 2022 as International Year of Mountains by Malawian flag carriers.
“Mountains matter for tourism and Malawi as a developing country is using Tourism as a tool to provide jobs, generating income, diversifying the economy, protecting the environment, and promoting cross-cultural awareness. Tourism being the fourth-largest industry in the global economy and Malawi as a country we are lacking access to local and international tourism activities and information at a youth or secondary level.
“According to the Malawi Domestic Tourism Marketing Strategy (2018), Malawians are not into mainstream tourism and travel. This is evidenced with the notion that travel and tourism is for foreigners. Therefore, it is important to orient students and youths at early stage to tourism culture. Malawi has its weight on promoting and developing five tourism product lines namely; The Lake (including rivers), Wildlife, Nature, Culture and Events,” said Chamwala
He added that the main objective of the project is for the student to understand the immerse potential and benefits of tourism industry in Malawi whilst striving to conserve the environment and natural resources including mountains.
“We want to promote local and international tourism though among the students in secondary schools, promote flora and fauna appreciation and conservation of mountains and its reserves, reduce harmful practices towards environment and nature such as deforestation, poor waste disposal and pollution, inculcate the outdoor culture though hiking, camping, trekking activities amongst the student and enhance responsible and sustainable tourism among students and the communities,” he said
Chamwala said three people are set to climb Mount Kilimanjaro for cause and called on other Malawians who are willing to join to pay for them to be part of this initiative.
“Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain in Africa with a height of 5895m above sea level. The highest point, Uhuru Peak has seven different routes to reach to the summit of Uhuru. Marangu route is a 5 days’ trail to Uhuru peak and this is the chosen trail for the hikers in 2022 trip.
The hike is part of a fundraising drive as well as commemoration of International Year of Mountains,” he said
Rapid and growing awareness of the importance of mountain areas in recent years prompted the United Nations General Assembly on 8th December, 2021 to declare 2022 as the International Year of Mountains (IYM).
Through the declaration, the General Assembly invites all Member States, organizations of the United Nations system, other international and regional organizations and other relevant stakeholders, including civil society, the private sector and academia, to observe the International Year, as appropriate, in order to increase awareness of the importance of sustainable mountain development and the conservation and sustainable use of mountain ecosystems.
“As Malawi seeks to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, the marking of the 2022 International Year of Mountains through various activities would provide an opportunity to highlight the ecosystem services that we derive from mountains and how to safeguard them.
“The Malawi team that will travel to Uhuru peak is lead by individuals that have been instrumental in organizing the International Mountains Day locally. The same team is instrumental in raising awareness of mountains to many people. The trip is a learning moment along understanding the sustainable use of mountains,” he said
He further said the project implementation shall be led by Adventures with Colby (AwC), Team Adventures and Hikers Alliance and for sustainability of the project Department of Malawi Tourism shall be highly involved.
“The club to comprise of students who join voluntarily and ready to learn and participate in activities that promote tourism and nature conservation. The clubs will be linked to the district department of Tourism, Department of Forestry and other relevant stakeholders to provide support, motivation and mentorship,” he said
He added that the project will facilitates, solicits and provides support and motivation to the clubs through Malawi Tourism journals/ magazines, outdoor gear such camping tents, sleeping bags and sleeping mats, school trips to National Parks, nature, tourism and forest trainings, school activities such as hiking, camping and trekking, each school to have teachers as club patron and cleaning and clearing tools such as hoes, slashes,
The project will start with six schools, two from each regions of Malawi with one urban school and one rural school in each region, a full secondary school (form 1 to form 4) and another separate selection criteria to be drafted.
“Project sustainability is an aspect that has been incorporated with Malawi Tourism and Forestry Departments to conduct trainings to teachers and students in the selected schools selected for continuity of support with updated information about wildlife nature and tourism.
“The selected schools in the long run will be competing among each other on coming up with a tourism, wildlife or forest management idea or proposal that can be implemented and handed over to the responsible department (Tourism, wildlife or forest),” he said