Wednesday, July 24, 2024

An eye for the green revolution

Spending years of getting educated and educating others for 29 years did not deter a former University of Botswana lecturer from accomplishing his compassionate goal of ploughing back to his community.

Dr Bazili Nfila lectured from 1981 to 2010 and a year later he was heading a Non Governmental Organisation called Environmental Heritage Foundation (EHF) as a Facilitator. He still holds the position at the same NGO and is determined not to leave any time soon.

The foundation does consultancy work for the eight community development Trusts spread over the North East District.

The trusts he is working with are: the Kalakamati based Mantenge Community Conservation Trust; Zwenshambe’s Zwenishamba Conservation Trust, Nlaphkwani Lingilila Community Conservation Trust of Nlaphkwani village, Danang’ombe Community Conservation Trust in Moroka, Mazibakufa conservation Trust in Jackalas no.1, Kagango Community Conservation Trust in Ramokgwebana, Ipopeng Life skills Foundation from Ipopeng ward in Francistown city, as well as Marapong’s Tizha ko diwa Pasisila Integrated Youth Project.

“The other one we are trying to help is in Masingwaneng. We have helped them source some funds so that they can start up a trust. We are only awaiting the next move as communities in the villages of Sechele and Masingwaneng are still collaborating with the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) to acquire some wildlife to keep along the Ntimbale dam,” said the soft spoken Nfila.

The consultancy Dr. Nfila talks about is coordinating projects done by the semi-literate, less experienced committee members of the various trusts back in the rural areas. He calls this ploughing back because he considers it payback time for what his tribesmen and women did to support and nurture him from school going age to date.

“They cut off trees, dug out soil, to build shelters-classrooms so that I and others got the education we needed. I am now determined to plough back to them by liberating them from poverty and its related hardships. Me and my team write proposals for those trusts and help in scouting for funds for envisaged projects. We mobilise and coordinate communities. By communities we mean relations in which individuals participate in education together, participate in economic production together and make decisions and enforce them together,” explained Nfila, adding that everything works together to avoid situations where one is used negatively.

To explain further he said wealthy or well off people in our society have the tendency to use the poor for financial gain. “I am talking about a situation where one would bring some poor people together; give them some chibuku beer, and then order them to cut trees – including wet trees and pile them for future use as firewood. The land in which such trees have been cut will lose soil due to soil erosion and deforestation that will itself lead to no carbon being absorbed by trees- ultimately contributing to global warming. So we mobilise them so that they have power to find means of providing for their livelihood,” he said.

He is of the opinion that one cannot stop people from taming others but you can educate them not to; just as you cannot stop people from being tamed by others but you can educate them. That way, he says, you would have played your role as you are part of the community that is practising all these.

His NGO’s office is run partially by funds collected from the trusts they work with. The office gets a fraction of the funds applied for once the funds have been dispatched for utilisation. These little funds therefore help to fuel the vehicles, as well as utility bills. They also collaborate with the Rural Industries Innovation Company (RIIC) which uses its office and therefore share with them such costs as the utilities.

This Zwenshabe borne old man says every work has its challenges, so is his work at EHF. The NGO has among its challenges, the common one of shortage of funds. This is further exacerbated by the fact that the signatories to this Francistown based NGO are all based in Gaborone. This complicates transactions. Shortage of staff is another and he says his efforts to try and get an intern have proven unsuccessful a number of times. He is over burdened as he has to often drive through various terrains of the North East and attend to other tasks at the office.

Nevertheless he is determined to soldier on. He enjoys his job- despite all odds- because his job profile at the University entailed elements of event organisation. This is what inspired his campaigns for conservation among his tribesmen. He has seen take offs of such projects as fish keeping in Zwenshambe, land reclaiming project at Nlaphkwani, historical sites conservation projects in Kalakamati and Jackalas no.1.

Since he was from a capacity building workshop, he praised the organisers of the event for what he called community empowerment. He was especially impressed by the encouragement at the workshop, to the literate, for them to use language communities understood the best.

“That way, experienced members of communities will be able to share with the learned, how they conserved the environment traditionally in the past. Batswana are not beginning now, to conserve the environment. Adapting to climate change can also be expressed in a language that the masses will understand. Droughts have occurred in the past and people survived them, because they learnt how to adapt to them. Once educated and mobilised on the climate change subject rural dwellers can use appropriate actions to adapt to it,” concluded Dr. Nfila.

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