A natural birthright
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CTA. 2001. A natural birthright. Rural Radio Resource Pack 01/2. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to cite or share this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57135
Dan Chirwa explaining to Patrick Mphaka how the water of Lake Malawi is a natural birthright for all Malawians.
A natural birthright CUE: For thousands of years, Lake Malawi has been a source of fresh water for the villagers who live along its shores. Even now the water of the lake is still used for washing clothes, bathing and cooking. However, Lake Malawi is also becoming increasingly popular with tourists, and as the number of hotels and lodges around the lake increases, so access for the local people becomes more difficult. Patrick Mphaka went to Nkhata Bay to find out how lodge owners and villagers there are dealing with the issue of rights to the lake shore. IN: ?There are a number of development? OUT: ?You are welcome sir? DUR?N: 4?50? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Dan Chirwa was explaining to Patrick Mphaka how the water of Lake Malawi is a natural birthright for all Malawians. Transcript Mphaka There are a number of development activities which have taken place along Lake Malawi, lodges, hotels and other activities. Along the lake also there are a number of villages who use the waters of the lake. We are trying to find out what rights these people have and what about the owners, what rights do they enjoy themselves on the beach of the lake? One of such people is Mr Arnold Shaba, he?s the owner of the Ilala Bay Lodge located at Nkhata Bay. Now as I?ve indicated we are trying to find out the activities which you have here and how much access you allow the local people to still have on the waters of Lake Malawi where your lodge is located. Naturally you came to a place where there were people already and these people must have been using the water of the lake. What difference does it make now that you are here? Shaba The major difference really is that before we came here accessibility was much more than it is at the moment but as soon as we opened our place for business, obviously those people who only came here to do minor things they are no longer coming. But we do have people like fishermen, women drawing water, women who like to wash their clothes, even people like to come and swim, they still do come here to use the facilities. We have no specific restrictions on that. Mphaka Since you have been here have you had any conflicts as regards the user rights of the waters with the local people? Shaba So far, no. We have never had any specific conflicts. Obviously some people have complained that maybe they are not as free as in the past but I think now the understanding which I begged from them they seem to have now accepted and I think we are living harmoniously. We also did have discussions with the local chief to explain to him that our intention was to accommodate peoples needs in terms of access to the lake. So the chief understood everything right from the beginning. Mphaka Do you think this is the type of situation of understanding which everyone else has from the locals as regards the people who are developing the lake shore areas, or do you think other people have got problems of resistance from the local people? Shaba Well we understand in some lodges accessibility is not as the locals would like but I believe that if the developers can only discuss their projects or their businesses with the locals and come to an understanding, I think the conflicts can be resolved. Mphaka We have heard there what one of the people who has developed places along the lake shore has to say about restricting the local people on using the water and what he does in order to ensure that the villagers as well, the locals, do have their rights. With me now is one of the locals themselves and his name is Dan Chirwa. Dan Chirwa is from Chikale village. Now can you tell me specifically for what is this water being used by local people here? Chirwa To a large extent it?s being used for domestic purposes like washing, some other people are bathing there. They also use it for cooking after distillation. Mphaka Is it true that some people do stop villagers from using the water and to what extent is the problem? Chirwa The owners of the lodges to a large extent do not restrict people from using the lake. Because this is a public place and they know that people have the right. It is their birth right to use the lake. Mphaka Are you trying to say that everyone who comes here knows that they can go into the water and no one owns the water, it?s for everybody? Chirwa I know this is a natural reservoir, it was not constructed by a man and by virtue of being a Malawian you?ve got the right to use a public thing like this one so long as you do not pollute it, and you do not destroy natural resources. Mphaka Now Dan are you trying to tell me that people in your village can find it very strange if anybody came by and said ?Don?t use this water?? Chirwa Yes sometimes, we never know, they can even beat him because that can sound very strange. Mphaka Well thank you very much for your time to speak to me and enlighten me on the way people use the water here. Chirwa You are welcome sir. End of tape.