Malawi Conservation Education Partnership Plans to Help People and Animals
The launch of a unique conservation education partnership at Liwonde National Park, Malawi, later this month, is expected to significantly improve school success rates in local communities who live daily with wildlife.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW – www.ifaw.org) will join HELP Malawi (Help, Educate, Love, Protect – www.helpchildren.org) in rolling out IFAW’s Animal Action Education Programmes at schools close to Liwonde from the start of the 2014-15 academic year.
HELP Malawi is an established NGO focused on education and which concentrates its work at schools in Balaka District.
“IFAW funding has helped build two new dormitory blocks at Nanthomba Full Primary School,” said Nancy Barr, Director of IFAW’s Animal Action Education Programme. “They will house 12 trainee teachers thus reducing pupil/teacher ratios from 90:1 to 43:1 and providing the teaching assistance needed to integrate IFAW’s conservation and animal welfare curricula with the visionary programming of the board of Nanthomba Full Primary and HELP Malawi.
The official launch of the partnership between IFAW and HELP Malawi will be held at Nanthomba Full Primary School, in Balaka District, on 26 August 2013, and will be attended by a number of high profile Government representatives.
“We’re excited about the opportunities this partnership offers to develop locally-relevant education programmes that can help better the lives of both animals and people in the region
“The IFAW curriculum will supplement core literacy outcomes at Nanthomba, with the aim of increasing graduation rates and reducing the number of repeater students or dropouts; as well as improving knowledge and attitudes among communities living in daily contact with wildlife,” said Barr.
Jessica Herendeen, Executive Director of HELP Malawi, said the partnership between the two organisations coupled with HELP’s commitment to engaging regional knowledge, highlighted their approach to community development.
“With the support of local leaders and dedicated partners such as IFAW, HELP anticipates a well-received programme which will dramatically supplement in-class learning while focusing on two core areas, literacy and conservation,” said Herendeen.
New research has shown that the conservation of large animal species – Liwonde NP is renowned for its elephants – may depend more on good education, greater literacy, good government and less corruption than merely setting aside areas for conservation.
IFAW has been active at Liwonde NP since 2011, through its Liwonde NP Conservation Programme, in which it partners with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife. Last year IFAW support helped build the Chikolongo Community Fish Farm which provides a livelihood opportunity for local people and secure access to safe drinking water.
Since the opening of the fish farm, incidences of human-wildlife conflict have been greatly reduced, while elephant raids on the crops protected by the village’s electric fence were limited to only one incident in 12 months. The fish farm also reduces poaching pressure on animals in Liwonde NP, and fish poaching in the Shire.
HELP Malawi was established in 2006. It currently focuses its work in the Balaka District which spans across 18 villages along the Western border of Liwonde National Park
HELP worked with the community, Central African Wilderness Safaris and the Ministry of Education to construct the Nanthomba Full Primary School, just outside the western border of Liwonde NP. HELP provides infrastructure and programming support to Nanthomba which educates 1,035 students, as well as to three other primary schools in the area. Besides the regular government curriculum afterschool activities related to environmental management are undertaken.
About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare) Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.