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 

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