In a bid to increase awareness on the need to preserve wetlands, the Harare Wetland Trust has started a campaign aimed at mobilizing communities to be actively involved in the preservation of wetlands in Harare.
By Edgar Gweshe
Residents from various suburbs around Harare are set to be part of Local Environment Action Plans (LEAPs) which are local plans that local authorities develop for the management of the environment within areas under their jurisdiction. The City of Harare has given its support to this initiative.
Section 95 of the Environmental Management Act mandates local authorities to develop the action plans on environmental management.
Speaking during training programmes held in Rugare and Dzivarasekwa high density suburbs on Tuesday, Hardlife Mudzingwa, who is a Programmes Officer for the wetlands preservation project emphasized the need to preserve wetlands as they are important sources of water.
“Residents need to be actively involved in the preservation of wetlands as they are important sources of water. Tampering with wetlands basically means tampering with water supplies and this will put the lives of many residents of Harare at risk due to water scarcity.
“The involvement of communities that benefit from the wetlands is thus very critical. It is also critical that communities work with office bearers in their efforts to preserve wetlands,” said Mudzingwa.
Wetlands are among the major sources of water for Harare. They are however under continuous threat as a result of residential and industrial expansion projects which are often implemented without paying regard to the need to preserve the water sources.
The east side of the Monavale Vlei wetland is under threat after it was partially disturbed by preparations for development for unknown purposes.
Zimbabwe is a signatory to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. Wetlands are protected under the country’s Environmental Management Act, Chapter 20:27.
Ramsar sites in Zimbabwe include the Monavale Vlei, Cleveland Dam, Mana Pools, Lake Chivero, Driefontein Grasslands, Chinhoyi Caves and the Victoria Falls National Park.
The Zimbabwe National authority is on record saying that the destruction of wetlands was negatively affecting water tables in Harare.
Community members from Rugare and Dzivarasekwa emphasized the need to also engage local industries over the issue of pollution of wetlands.
Dumping of waste was also identified as another challenge threatening the existence of wetlands in Harare.