Campaigners oppose oil drilling near Lake Malawi; say it could cause ecological disaster & compromise livelihoods

Activists have condemned British government's use of aid money to promote oil drilling near Lake Malawi saying that it could cause an ecological disaster and compromise livelihoods.[Refers to Surestream and Hamra Oil]

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24 November 2016

Activists urge UK to promote clean sustainable energy sources instead of oil drilling in Malawi

Author: Alice Ross, The Guardian

"UK aid money spent trying to boost British role in Malawi oil sector"

The British government spent thousands of pounds of aid money on a project aimed at “establishing the UK as the partner of choice” in the nascent oil and gas sector of one of the world’s poorest countries. Malawi is believed to have substantial oil deposits, including under Lake Malawi, a pristine freshwater lake – the third largest in Africa – whose southern shores are a protected Unesco world heritage site. Unesco has warned that any oil activity near the lake risks causing an ecological disaster.

Kate Osamor, the shadow international development secretary, said: “The issue isn’t the amount of money...But using money that’s supposedly for sustainable development to encourage oil exploration seems highly questionable.” Greenpeace’s senior climate advisor Charlie Kronick told the Guardian: “The UK government is using aid money supposed to promote, among other things, clean energy and climate projects to help the fossil fuel industry that’s causing the climate problem in the first place. “What’s worse, this is happening in a country that’s extremely vulnerable to climate change and where oil exploration is largely concentrated around Lake Malawi, a Unesco world heritage site and one of Africa’s largest and most biodiverse lakes.” He added: “Instead of using aid money to grease the wheels of the fossil fuel industry, the UK government should help Malawi develop the clean, sustainable energy sources many African countries are racing to exploit.”

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24 November 2016

Malawi activist say oil drilling near Lake Malawi could compromise livelihoods for about 1.5 million people

Author: Maeve McClenaghan, Joe Sandler Clarke & Lawrence Carter, Energy Desk

"Oil frontiers: British government uses aid money to back oil drilling in UNESCO World Heritage Site"

 In Malawi, campaigners and NGOs have expressed serious concerns over the consequences of any oil exploration. Most of Malawi’s oil license blocks overlap Lake Malawi, one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world. The vast body of water is home to Nile crocodiles, hippopotamus, monkeys, and African fish eagles, as well as supporting the livelihoods of more than 1.5 million people living on its shores.

 Its southern-most shores are protected as a UNESCO World Heritage site and local experts have expressed fears that oil exploration anywhere on the lake could have devastating results. Rafiq Hajat, chair of the International Alliance on Natural Resources in Africa, a network of civil society organisations across the continent, explained:  “If there was any spill on Lake Malawi it will ruin a pristine, aquatic ecosystem. It would take up to 700 years to replenish. It is an incredibly fragile system.”

...Malawian campaigner Godfrey Mfiti has travelled around the borders of the lake talking with villages chiefs in the area. “People are not happy with the situation at hand,” he told Energydesk. “They depend on the fisheries for their livelihoods, and their families have lived there for centuries. Even though drilling hasn’t happened yet, in the areas where exploration is being done we’re already seeing low counts of fish.” He is calling on Surestream to produce a human rights impact report, exploring the impact any drilling would have on local communities.



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