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Financing Green skills: developing skills whilst creating environmental protection buffer zones
Posted on 27 April, 2018 14:46
By Clive Mutame Siachiyako – [BMC, MSc]
Green skills are valuable in meeting sustainable development goals (SDGs). Green skills enable citizens to come up with products and services that are eco-friendly. Part of the Skills Development Fund is invested towards the development of various green skills in TEVET institutions. Among the institutions that were funded in green skills included St. Mawagali (formerly Choma Trades Training Institute), Mwekera Forest College, Samfya, Chisangwa and Mufumbwe Youth Resource Centres. St. Mawagali was funded in renewable energy.

The trainer in renewable energy, Ebenezar Lyambai said renewable knowledge and skills were valuable in TEVET for the attainment of SDGs and other environmental related issues. TEVET is more strategic in providing skilled citizens in renewable energy as it is flexible in designing tailor-made training that impart practical skills required to meet renewable energy needs by the industry.

The training at St. Mawagali focuses on solar energy. It includes solar installation, maintenance and repair. As the world goes green, there is need for skilled persons in installing solar systems, maintaining them and doing repairs. Importing installers or repairs deny local people income from renewable energy, which is the main global focus to safeguard the world from environmental problems arising from unsustainable energy use.

Globally, the renewable energy industry employs over 8.1 million people. However, there is close to 60% skills shortage in the sector attributed to “lack of planning” in developing skills for the industry as the main contributor to the skills shortfall. The Global Energy Talent Index (GETI) report on employment trends in energy shows that 58% players in renewable energy industry see the “lack of planning for knowledge transfer/skills retention” as the main reason for the skills shortage. Meanwhile, 21% of renewables employers say the “overall number of professionals entering the industry” is a main contributor. Over 25% of the players feel lack of funding in greens skills serve as an obstacle to attracting talent in renewable energy.

Despite the skills shortage and other hitches, the renewable energy jobs have risen rapidly in the last decade. Training a prepared and skilled workforce that enables the solar industry to meet growing deployment demands is a high priority in most countries, Zambia inclusive. There is need for increased and accessible training in solar energy system design, installation, sales, and inspection, as well as power systems engineering and related professions like sustainable building supervising through a variety of training programmes. The Skills Development Fund embraces training programmes seeking to address sustainable development goals (SDGs) and developing other green skills.

Mwekera Forest College indirectly imparts conservation mindset among learners through bee keeping. The college trains people in the forest area on types of flowers, trees and how to make beehives from woods. The training creates an appreciation of the forest as an important aspect in people’s livelihoods, contrary to cutting trees for charcoal burning as the most visible livelihood for forest dwellers.

“People are able to see the link between conserving the forest and people’s livelihoods. Through the training, learners know that cutting trees takes away the source of honey production for bees. Cutting trees endangers the production of honey, which is in high demand due to people’s changes in lifestyles in preference to health practices that includes honey consumption against sugar,” explained Mr. Nyawali, a trainer in bee keeping at Mwekera Forest College.

The programme had value addition component of the honeycombs. Learners were trained in making by-products from honey combs such as candles, cobra and glue. Value addition is a critical aspect in increasing value from raw materials Zambia often provide to the market. Value addition even at a small scale has the potential to grow and feed into large industries through business linkages workable by auxiliary government institutions.

Mufumbwe Youth Resource Centre trained rural people in a similar programme. The programme is done down in a rural area where beneficiaries of the training lived. Mobile training rarely happens and people who left the school system and feared that the school system had no space for them find it much easier to fit in the learning taken to their familiar environments and apply themselves, especially that training is based on available resources in their locations. Mufumbwe has large forests that are a valuable source for bee-keeping with easy. “You do not need capital in bee-keeping. Capital is a person having the skill to do the right thing to make beehives, attract bees, manage the bees, harvest the honey, process it and retain the bees,” explained Mufumbwe Youth Resource Centre Training Manager, Rogers Mweemba.

“Having a skill is more important in bee-keeping. Other things follow later. As it can be seen here, these people did not invest anything but they have so many beehives in different apiaries. They learnt how to make the hives and other nitty-gritties and they were ready to go with it. Some grew up in these forests and can easily relate to bee-keeping despite lacking skill on current trends of managing bees and what they can produce out of honey and honeycombs.”

Bee apiaries have been made combing both traditional and modern methods. The idea is to enable bee keeping students utilize available materials for keeping bees after training. The learners are working on forming a cooperative known as Kajibwe Bee Cooperation for keeping bees in Mufumbwe. The cooperative is meant to increase honey production. Amongst the members, some have 200 others 30 and they want to be putting their honey together to meet demand for honey in the area.

However, Mr. Mweemba cautioned that although back hives [made of tree back] were cheap; making beehives from tree back destroyed trees. It also made honey harvesting difficult and some of it get mixed with honeybee eggs and larvae when bees are kept in back hives as they make honey harvesting a challenge.

Modern bee hives help improve honey production and harvesting to combine traditional and modern hives. The modern ones can be made from different materials like polymeric and wooden materials. Although wooden ones also result into cutting trees to make them, if a culture of planting trees is inculcated into people, it will sustain the forests. Mr. Mweemba explained that modern bee hives allowed ease monitoring of quality of honey, harvesting and honeycomb quality.

Elaborating on benefits of beekeeping, Mr. Mweemba said propolis [bee resin], honeycomb and honey itself were realised from keeping bees, which create a source of income. Propolis is a resinous material that bees use to seal small cracks and gaps in the hive (beeswax seals the larger gaps). It’s made when bees collect resin from trees and other sources and mix it with a little bit of honey. Like its cousin, beeswax, propolis has been found to offer numerous health benefits, and many researchers are looking into its role for various therapeutic uses. It is also a natural antibiotic.

He said when people learn about benefits from bees, they tend to appreciate preserving forests that support the existing bees and provide materials for producing honey and other by-products. Conservation principles are thus imparted on them. He added Mufumbwe receive visitors asking for honey and looking at diabetic problems people face “we thought a programme in bee-keeping could increase honey production.”

Yamakwakwa area where the training is done have abundant forest and people have been keeping bees most of their lives and “we needed to enhance bee keeping practices in line with modern honey keeping requirements. The skill will help them increase their income levels. It does not require capital is human beings trained to make bee hives and know where to hang the hives and harvesting. Mr. Mweemba explained that “honeycomb can be boiled to melt to make wax, shoe polish, soap or candles. Propolis is used as antibiotics. The venom in bees can be used for fertility and men and women.”

Samfya and Chisangwa Youth Resource Centres collaboratively trained in Silvicultire [tree planting and management]. Silvicultire training mainly focused on 1) greenhouse in relation to deforestation 2) grafting of oranges and lemons, and 3) tree planting. The training seeks to address environmental issues and nutrition via fruit production. “Grafting will help the trained youths to know how to graft to make proper oranges, which are missing in this area,” Samfya Youth Resource Centre Training Manager, Francis Ndonyo.

Mr. Ndonyo indicated that since most skilled persons in grass roofing came from Zimbabwe, the centre sought funding from the SDF to skill local people in thatching using grass. He said the training focused on cleaning the grass, carpentry works and grass roofing. The Training Manager argued that there was no need to import labour for grass thatching into Samfya.

Silculture was meant to climate change problems and a source of timber, especially that Zambia is losing thousands of trees per year. Mr. Shamende Jackson, a trainer in silviculture, agro forest and horticulture said the tripartite skilling approach in the programme provided learners with diversified skills to apply in growing fruits, vegetables and growing trees.

TEVETA Zambia 2020. (MOHE statutory agency)