Celebrating Women on the Frontlines of Conservation – Meet Madaliso

For the month of March we celebrated the incredible women we work with through our three part series, “Women on the Frontlines of Conservation”. Last but not least is Madaliso, one of our Community Engagement Officers based at our Mfuwe site. She and her team play a key role in working with local communities to protect thier forests through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded Community Forests Program implemented by BCP. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Madaliso on a field visit to the Malama Chiefdom and very excited to spot giraffes. A sign of conservation at work!

How long have you been working for the USAID funded Community Forests Program implemented by BCP?

Over 6 months

What is the best part of your role at BCP?

The best part of my job is being outside and helping spread awareness about how vital this program is to our lives so that communities can see long term benefits.

What excites you about working for BCP and being a woman working in conservation?

I get excited about interacting with people at the grassroots level. Being a woman working in conservation is valuable. We are the ones who understand what is going on the best and we are the ones who can makes changes.

I also love the conservation side. We have a lot of men on our team but few women. When I’m out in the field, I can do the same thing as the men and it builds my confidence. Field work also makes me realize how much climate change affects poverty.

Not afraid of rolling up her sleeves and getting down to business, Madaliso checks up on a Partnership Impact Project in Mwanya Chiefdom, a boat to help transport people across the river during the rainy season which improves access to healthcare and education.

What is the greatest challenge you face in your work in conservation?

The greatest challenge is people telling me they don’t believe in what we do, or in conservation. Field days are also long. It’s hard work moving around in the bush, but I get to see a lot of places, understand what is happening and learn how people are affected. Sometimes we are only guided by GPS. Yet even at the end of the day I still have a heart to conserve nature and contribute to the world. It’s challenging but the best thing at the same time.

As a woman – what challenges have you faced in pursuing your career goals? How do you overcome these challenges?

It takes a big heart and a lot of courage to do this work. My friends didn’t think I could do anything with conservation, they said I needed to make money fast. Other people were surprised when I started working for BCP because they said it was tough work and should only be done by men, but I stayed with it and was passionate about my work. I love what I do. If you’re always complaining, it’s not for you.

As a Community Engagement Officer, Madaliso, works closely with local communities, sometimes conducting meetings to discuss our work and programs ensuring that communities understand and value forest protection.

Why is it important to work with women at a community level in conservation projects?

We need to work with women because they rely on agriculture and forests. They are the ones who are left out in development work, but are the ones most affected. They need to be highly involved in this project.

What advice would you give young girls who want to get involved in conservation?

Girls should become interested in conservation, not for the money, but for the future of a healthy world. They should take a global interest and understand that each of us will be affected by climate change but that they can make a positive difference.

Thanks to Madaliso’s hard work people in the local communities around Mfuwe are valuing and protecting thier forest.

This blog is made possible by the support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of BCP and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

Photo Credits: BCP 

Celebrating Women on the Frontlines of Conservation – Meet Rebecca

We are dedicating the whole month of March to celebrating the incredible  women on the frontlines of conservation through this three part series of interviews. Up next is Rebecca, a Community Scout based with our team in Rufunsa Conservancy. As one of the people on the ground, Rebecca monitors and protects the forest and wildlife in and around our Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project and the Lower Zambezi National Park. This interview has been edited for length and clarity

How long have you been working for the USAID funded Community Forests Program implemented by BCP?

Almost 3 years.

What is the best part of your role at BCP?

I enjoy conserving nature and I like protecting the wildlife from poachers.

Rebecca, seen crouching, is working with her team to monitor forest and protect wildlife in and the Lower Zambezi National Park.

What excites you about working for BCP and being a woman working in conservation?

I grew up in Luangwa and saw how the Department of National Parks and Wildlife look out after animals which helped develop my interest. I like being part of the conservation team with the Community Scouts. It makes me feel good knowing that I can do what a man can do. Most of the women don’t want a job like this, they think it’s just for men. One day I would like to become a Wildlife Police Officer.

What is the greatest challenge you face in your work in conservation?

It’s challenging to be the only female on the team sometimes. I worry about my safety with poachers and animals. With poachers I worry that they would make me their target. Where the bush is thick it can be challenging, poachers see you’re a women and will target you first. I’ve also been chased by elephants and ended up twisting my leg.

Rebecca in the field communicating with the rest of her team at Rufunsa Conservancy

As a woman – what challenges have you faced in pursuing your career goals? How do you overcome these challenges?

My family didn’t approve of me becoming a scout. They thought it was a job for men. I just told them that I just had to do this and wanted to be independent.

What barriers do you think woman face in getting involved in conservation?

Not many women get involved in conservation because its hard work. They fear training. You undergo a lot of physical training, learn theory and practical’s like detecting a poacher’s camp.

What advice would you give young girls who want to get involved in conservation?

It’s good to conserve nature and protect animals. Spread your knowledge about conservation to your community and study it.

As just one of several Community Scouts, Rebecca is proud to work with her team to protect Zambia’s forests and wildlife.

This blog is made possible by the support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of BCP and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

Photo Credits: BCP 

Celebrating Women on the Frontlines of Conservation – Meet Mwaka

Today, March 8th, is International Women’s Day, but we’re not stopping celebrations at one day. Instead we are dedicating a whole month to celebrating the incredible  women on the frontlines of conservation through this three part series of interviews. First up is Mwaka Mphande, one of our  Community Engagement Officers who is playing a key role in working with communities to protect the forest.

 

 

How long have you been working for the USAID funded Community Forests Program implemented by BCP?

Six months.

 

What is the best part of your role at BCP?

I enjoy being out in the field work, working with communities on Environmental Education Activities and writing reports. I also get really excited about working with all people in the community and promoting gender equality in conservation.

 

What is the greatest challenge you face in your work in conservation?

We walk long distances while monitoring the forest and boundary painting. It’s a lot of hard work. The other challenge is getting people to understand our project and why they should protect trees.

 

As a woman – what challenges have you faced in pursuing your career goals? How do you overcome these challenges?

My biggest challenge has been finding finances for my studies, but I have overcome these challenges by utilizing opportunities that come my way.

 

Why is it important to work with women at a community level in conservation projects?

Women in general manage and act as sources of information on the use of natural resources. Around the world they have many responsibilities at the household level and manage a range of activities at the community level.  They benefit from the conservation and sustainable management of biodiversity. Women are very committed to forest protection and management.

 

What barriers do you think women face in getting involved in conservation?

In many cultures women are excluded from leadership and decision making roles. Deforestation affects women in particular because they are usually the ones who collect firewood and water while traveling long distances. This means they spend more time and energy doing this, which has a negative impact on other activities to earn income and have free time. Women’s rights to land and forests are also not as secure as a man’s.

 

What advice would you give young girls who want to get involved in conservation?

I advise young girls to stay focused at school, join a conservation youth group, get involved by volunteering for other conservation activities and share your conservation knowledge with the community.

 

Mwaka hard at work with her team monitoring the boundaries of a community forest

 

This blog is made possible by the support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of BCP and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

Photo Credits: BCP