A collaboration between Dr. K. McKaye, the University of Maryland and Malawi, led to a modest environmental education grant from World Wildlife Fund, USA - to use art as a tool in a course to heighten awareness among school children living close to Lake Malawi National Park. They learned that, through drawing on their own hand-made paper – about the connection between bilharzia (disease) and over-fishing. WWF Finland also became interested in conserving the unique fish species of Lake Malawi National Park (LMNP) and initiated a number of projects related to environmental education – to conserve the natural resources of Lake Malawi National Park.
Art, as a tool, in environmental education has become an integral part of projects that began with WWFUSA and continued with WWF Finland – with a focus on benefitting communities close to Lake Malawi National Park – UNESCO World Heritage Site. The torch has been passed on to a Malawian NGO – HEEED (created by WWF Finland) which continues to promote the goals enshrined in their constitution: Health, Education,Environment and Economic Development – working with communities within the area of Nankumba Peninsula, including Lake Malawi National Park. HEEED’s ongoing programme has been supported by United Nations Development Programme – GEF Small Grants Programme (www.heeedmalawi.net) and is currently the recipient of a grant from Ensome (Nicaragua).
The challenge lies in changing peoples’ behaviour and such initiatives are necessarily slow in taking root. This requires a long-term vision if we are to truly affect the lives of children – the future stewards of their environment.
Alison continues to work as Educational Advisor with HEEEDMalawi and to support initiatives related to the Health, Education, Environment and Economic Development of communities living adjacent to Lake Malawi National Park – UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Cape Maclear EcoLodge and the HEEED Volunteer Programme also help support HEEED goals and anyone interested in visiting/participating – please contact the Manager, Elious Yohane.