By Bester KAYAYE
A friend in need is a friend indeed so goes the saying. Mkango Resources, which is developing the Songwe Hill Rare Earths project in Phalombe District, is a proven friend in need for the people in the area as the Company has always donated relief items to members of the community surrounding Songwe Hill in times of need.
The latest is a donation of K35-million Malawian Kwacha worth of relief items to 16 villages surrounding Songwe Hill who were affected by landslides and storm damage in the wake of relentless rains induced by Cyclone Freddy which has rendered many of the people in the communities destitute after washing away their homes as well as other property including livestock.
The donated items include, 663 twenty-five kg sacks of Maize flour, 715 twelve kg sacks of Soya pieces and 715 rolls of plastic sheeting.
Mkango Resources Country Manager Burton Kachinjika said as a corporate citizen of the Songwe Hill area, the Company feels the pain of any calamity that affects the citizens of the area.
Kachinjika said: “Mkango is part of the Songwe Hill community and has excellent relationships with members of the community and their leadership. We have supported the local communities for the last 13 years with education, farming, employment and infrastructural corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects amounting to over K137 million Malawian Kwacha.”
“When we came to this area in 2010, we were warmly welcomed by chiefs and other authorities and since then there has been a positive mutual working relationship between us and the community.”
Kachinjika advised the community to undertake environmental conservation measures such as good land management practices including avoiding cultivation on the hillside and the wanton cutting down of trees for charcoal production.
He said: “Assessing the impact of cyclone in this area, one can tell the damage has been exacerbated by environmental degradation due to poor land management.”
“Deforestation is a major issue in Phalombe district and the whole country. Without forests and woodlands binding the soils together soil erosion can become a major issue during strong rainy season storms.”
Kachinjika urged the local community to continue working together with Mkango on environmental conservation, which is a key part of the Company’s CSR programme.
Under its environmental conservation initiative, Mkango has been working with the district commissioner’s office and other environmental officials who come to the area to educate the community on environmental conservation.
“We must all plant more trees to help prevent future disasters,” said Kachinjika.
In his speech, Member of Parliament for Phalombe North East Constituency Dennis Namachekecha hailed the Company for its timely intervention in assisting the community and appealed for more support from other stakeholders and NGO’s.
Namachekecha said: “We are very happy that the company heard our appeal to render a helping hand considering the magnitude of the impact of Cyclone Freddy on our people the support from Mkango is very welcome and it will assist the beneficiaries to start re-building their lives”
“The donations have come in following an initial proposal that we issued to different groups and individuals appealing for support towards victims of the Cyclone, and Mkango responded positively by coming to the area to make an assessment for themselves and the fruits of that exercise is what we are witnessing today. Therefore as MP for this area I am very excited and thankful to Mkango.”
“More support is urgently needed from NGO’s and other stakeholders who specialize in helping communities to start re-building their lives and move out of the emergency camps which are located at many of the local school facilities, this is needed to allow school classes resume,” said Namachekecha.
He further thanked Mkango for their quick response and urged other well-wishers and NGO’s to assist the people of Phalombe East also.
Earlier this year, Mkango also assisted the communities with 30 bee hives as an income generating activity and also a way of addressing deforestation issues. Many tree seedlings have also been donated to the communities over the last 13 years.
Mkango Resources Limited completed its definitive feasibility studies in July 2022 and received a signed off ESHIA from the Malawi Government in January 2023. Mkango is looking forward to receiving a signed off Mining Development Agreement and Mining license from the Malawian government in the coming weeks, so that further development can begin to help further uplift the economy of the communities in Phalombe and within the nation of Malawi.