Panos Institute Southern Africa (PSAf) says limited access to extension services in rural areas is hindering the successful implementation of the Community Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM) to sustain the environment.
In a statement, PSAF executive director Lillian Kiefer observed that there was need for government to increase funding and staffing of departments involved in the provision extension services to enhance their capacity to provide the required extension services to communities.
“Panos Institute Southern Africa feels that the government needs to address the limited access to extension services which is hindering the sustainable management of the environment and natural resources at community level. Zambia has adopted the Community Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM) approach to achieve environmental sustainability. In this approach, the provision of extension services has been identified as one of the key ways to effective CBNRM as part of environmental sustainability,” Kiefer stated.
“While government policies identify the provision of extension services as one of the mechanisms for strengthening environmental sustainability, many community members do not have access to extension services. This absence of extension services leaves community members without the much-needed guidance and backstopping support in the management of natural resources. This has adversely affected sustainability of community level interventions for ENRM especially in fisheries, agriculture and forestry.”
She noted that the availability of extension services was key to implementing Community Based Natural Resources Management activities.
“Through the implementation of the Deepening CBNRM project, a CSEF2 project funded by the Finnish Government, PSAf has learned that in some communities, extension services are non-existent. In cases where the services are available, they are usually inadequate. This situation is due to inadequate resources such as finances and transport, as well as low staffing. For example, there are cases where only one officer is expected to provide extension services to vast district with many wards,” she stated.
“The availability of extension services is an important factor in the success of CBNRM activities as they create a channel through which experts can share information and impart skills on specific sustainable ENRM practices with community members. Limited access to extension services limits innovation among community members, forcing them to make the same mistakes, and thereby perpetuating unsustainable ERNM practices and environmental degradation.”
Kiefer further called on government to improve funding towards extension services and staffing for departments that provide extension services to enhance capacity building for the provision of the required extension services to communities.
“PSAf therefore calls on the government to seriously and urgently address the limited extension service challenge faced by rural communities if environmental sustainability is to be achieved in the country. A starting point towards this would be for the government to improve the funding and staffing for departments that provide extension services, to enhance their capacity to provide the required extension services to communities,” stated Keifer.