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Environmental challenges for 2012

The not-so-good news is that in spite of all their efforts, the country is still experiencing massive environmental degradation.

The nation is still litter-infested and the people generally continue throwing rubbish all over like it was the most normal thing to do. In spite of it being widely publicised that littering is now a finable offence, many continue to litter, evidently undeterred.

This is probably because the law enforcers are preoccupied with “more important matters”, like extorting money from commuter operators.

Organisations like Miracle Missions which were leading clean-up campaigns in 2011 have a busy year ahead of them. Hopefully, more corporate organisations will come in to support the campaign.

Recycling has been identified as one great way of managing waste in a productive manner and thankfully, many players continue to buy the idea, seeing the potential in recycling ventures. The success of such initiatives, however, depends highly on the cooperation from communities and how they dispose of their waste.

It thus becomes necessary to invest in educating communities on disposal methods that promote recycling.

It is now a well-known fact that Zimbabwe is a country blessed with much mineral wealth as many more deposits continue to be discovered. With this blessing however, comes a cursed environment facing the worst kind of abuse imaginable. The mining areas are characterised by gaping holes, gullies, trenches and open pits left on bare land that is no longer good for anything.

This is because miners, especially the small-scale kind, whose primary concern is the minerals, do not seem to see the need for land rehabilitation — the process of bringing some element of restoration to the land once the mining is finished.

The situation will only improve when every miner is  made to understand in no uncertain terms that mining activities, although undoubtedly highly lucrative, endanger the environment and it is every miner’s responsibility to minimise the harm and rehabilitate the land.

Deforestation and the general depletion of indigenous trees is another serious problem the country is currently battling with. The disappearing of indigenous trees has been widely blamed on tobacco farmers who, because the majority cannot afford coal to fire their kilns, have been cutting down trees on a very large scale to use in curing the crop.

In an attempt to curb the practice and bring back some semblance or order, all tobacco farmers are now required to own a woodlot of the eucalyptus gum trees to use in curing their tobacco, failure of which will see them  unable to trade in their crop at tobacco auction floors. Persistent veld fires have also taken their toll on the already battered forests.

While the local authorities continue to blame the breakdown of their conservation efforts on lack of resources, the environment continues to deteriorate. The danger lies in the fact that if the present trend is allowed to continue, the damage could soon reach a point where it will be impossible to reverse. And we should all know a healthy environment nurtures healthy people, just as an abused one endangers the lives of the people living in it.

Environmental issues affect every single one of us and as such, it is about time everyone showed concern, by each of us playing our part in making it better, and making sure the powers that be do right by us!

For feedback, contact me on cmasara@standard.co.zw


The charges against harare city council


Last Thursday the Environment Management Agency summoned the Harare City Council (HCC) on charges of “uncontrolled commercial and residential stands developments, cultivation and sand abstraction on wetlands, which are fragile sensitive ecosystems.”

What emerged during the hearing is that the city council either does not fully comprehend that wetlands  provide storage for underground water, which is the main source of drinking water for the majority, or simply do not care.

As the country already has a water crisis, it is absolutely necessary that the inundated open green spaces or wetlands are protected, if we are to safeguard our water supply.

During the same hearing, the agency also charged HCC for discharging raw sewage into water bodies, which then finds its way into Harare’s main water source, Lake Chivero.

It is not surprising then that the country is recurrently plagued by water-borne diseases like cholera and typhoid. What would one expect drinking water that had human waste in it before treatment?

Other charges the council faced were that of disposal of solid waste at undesignated sites without a licence, erratic collection of refuse in residential areas and the burning of waste.

It then leaves one wondering that if the institutions that are expected to uphold the law and ensure the safekeeping of the environment are at the forefront of abusing it, what more an ordinary person?

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