Maybe, the question that should be on every environmentally-conscious person’s mind right now would be: “How far have we come this year in addressing the environmental woes that bedevilled the nation?”
I believe the most talked about environmental problem in 2011, more so in this paper, has been the obscenely filthy state of the country and its battle with waste management.
It was not too difficult to reach the conclusion that Zimbabwe is infested with litterbugs that have been infesting the country with so much dirt — a state that has earned Harare an international reputation for being the “filthiest city in the world”.
Although many of us felt this was unjustified, no one can fail to see where the ruling was derived from.
It is very difficult to see the beauty that the country is renowned for when it is so filth-infested.
Looking at the present situation, we can safely say the litter war is definitely far from over.
Land degradation by the extractive industry is another area that was identified to be in dire need of attention.
A few mining companies, like Mbada Diamonds, have incorporated land rehabilitation programmes into their operations to help reclaim the land.
Regrettably, under the current “diamond rush” and the scramble for other valuable minerals, taking care of the environment would appear to be a secondary matter for other companies and individuals involved.
Earlier in the year, we asked the question: “What happened to city by-laws”?
This question was prompted by the general pervading lawlessness that has characterised most towns and cities around the country.
It seems people are now indulging in all sorts of illegal and environmentally harmful activities anywhere they deem fit.
For instance, you could see cars being washed just anywhere, even right in the middle of the road or the street vendors, that are now virtually at every spot imaginable.
We also mentioned the general disorderliness that the public transport operators in particular were causing.
The kombi drivers would park their vehicles anywhere and anyhow, resulting in the streets of Harare becoming an eyesore and leaving little space for people to maneuver.
I am sad to report that up to year-end, the situation doesn’t seem to have become any better. If anything, it is worse than it was before! I think it’s about time that police and the city council should seriously be reined in.
Another worry was that of wildlife depletion and the ongoing invasion of conservancies.
We have heard of some poachers being arrested, but from the continued dwindling of wildlife numbers, it would appear poachers are still very much in business in Zimbabwe.
Some wildlife species, like the black rhino, are currently in danger of extinction, as a result.
Deforestation is yet another environmental concern.
In Zimbabwe this issue has been credited mostly to the “new farmers” who have reportedly taken to trading in firewood to the Zimbabwean generality that are currently languishing under the most torturous load-shedding.
Unfortunately, the illegal tree loggers are mostly targeting the indigenous trees, that burn for longer, posing a serious threat of their disappearance as they take quite long to grow.
Veld fires have had equally devastating effects on Zimbabwe’s forests.
To help ease the problem, organisations such as the Fo-restry Commission, Friends of the Environment, Environment Africa and others have embarked on an aggressive tree-planting campaign in schools and prisons among other places.
They are also educating the farmers on the absolute need to preserve the forests.
There is no doubt that 2011 has been a good year for Zimbabwe’s environment as much more attention has been paid on areas that need to be taken care of.
Notable efforts have surely been made, but much more still remains to be doneto save the fast degrading environment.
HARARE FIGHTS TO REGAIN “SUNSHINE CITY” STATUS
It would not be fair however, if we were to go on and on about the filthy state of the country without mentioning the vigorous clean-up campaigns undertaken in 2011 by different stakeholders in a bid to bring a semblance of order.
The city of Harare, especially, is fighting to regain its “Sunshine City” status.
Most notable among those that have worked tirelessly in that area throughout the year are the three organisations: Miracle Missions, Environment Management Agency and Environment Africa. Different corporate like Standard Chartered need to be applauded for joining in the clean-up at a later stage.
The Harare City Council cleaning staff definitely need to be commended on their efforts. I am sure most of us, being honest, would admit to seeing these guys clean up the city every other morning, in spite of the situation remaining more or less the same due to lack of sufficient bins and some unreasonable people who are bent on throwing litter everywhere, among other reasons.
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