“Nothing is as powerful a social equaliser as education”

22nd April 2022 | Blog

At Book Aid International, with support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, we’ve been working with the non-profit conservation organisation, African Parks, to reach readers in Bangweulu Wetlands, Zambia, with brand new books.

African Parks works in partnership with governments and local communities to take on the complete responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of protected areas in Africa, and has been managing Bangweulu Wetlands in partnership with the Zambian Government and six Community Resource Boards since 2008.

This Earth Day we spoke to Emmanuel Mutamba, African Parks’ Community Manager in Bangweulu Wetlands, who explained the impact the new books have had on the communities in which he works. 

“My name is Emmanuel Mutamba and I work as the Community Manager in Bangweulu Wetlands. Bangweulu, which means “where the water meets the sky”, is a vitally important, community-owned wetland ecosystem in north-eastern Zambia.

My role centres around community education, enterprise development and building partnerships with communities to create change.

Chiundaponde Primary School, Bangweulu Wetlands, Zambia

In rural Zambia, high levels of poaching, poverty and illiteracy are commonplace and many people here are amongst the poorest in the country. We’re working to help expand local knowledge on conservation and increase household incomes to reduce the pressure of illegal wildlife harvesting.

When communities support conservation efforts, wildlife and other resources can flourish, stimulating tourists to visit the area, and bringing in more money to support local enterprises. This improves people’s income and enhances their livelihoods. Through this a balanced co-existence between humans and wildlife is achieved.

Pupils selecting books at Chiundaponde Primary School, Bangweulu Wetlands, Zambia

The books donated by Book Aid International have reached 52 primary schools, where we now have 52 storage trunks full of new books and 52 handwash stations for the students to use. Book Aid International also helped to build capacity for better library management by teachers in the schools around the project area and provided logistical support for the transportation of books.

I now know how to spell words because of the books donated by Book Aid, Thank you so much.

– Kaonga, Gilbert, pupil, Chifinshi Primary School, Zambia.

Books contain knowledge on characteristics and behaviours of animals and other living organisms. An educated community therefore benefits from research and appreciates the best way to interact with and conserve nature and wildlife.

Our schools are in very remote areas with poor roads, meaning education materials are often inaccessible. Without the books received from Book Aid International, the scarcity of adequate education materials in our schools would have continued.

Rosemary, Chilwizhi and Gilbert read in Chifinshi Primary School, Bangweulu Wetlands, Zambia

Nothing else in the world is as powerful a social equaliser as education. When our communities have an opportunity to obtain an education, they will sit at the same tables as the elite, and advocate for policies that ensure the rich resource base in their homeland is conserved for the benefit of current and future generations. Knowledge is power, knowledge lies in books, so it’s important to keep reading!”

I have known about wildlife through reading books donated by Book Aid International, I thank you and I would love to ask for more if possible!

– Gilbert, pupil, Chifinshi Primary School, Zambia.

With a special thanks to the players of People’s Postcode Lottery for funding this project and our collaboration with African Parks. 

All images: © Book Aid International/Jason J Mulikita

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