By Anyway Yotamu
HARARE – As Zimbabwe joins the world in commemorating World Wetlands Day , nearly 2 000 households across the country are being affected by incessant rains as they have been built on wetlands.
Addressing a virtual conference , Minister of Environment, climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Mangaliso Ndhlovu said the country is commemorating this day when nature is fighting back human encroachment into wetlands.
“Too often the benefits which wetlands provide within urban and peri-urban environments are not fully recognized as they compete against urban development, but instead wetlands should be integrated into planning and decision-making thus becoming part of the development agenda.
“The country is commemorating this day when nature is fighting back human encroachment into wetlands by responding to developmental and human activities on these sensitive ecosystems. This has been observed by the current flooding of residential areas in major urban centres and even rural areas in the country. That is a true testimony of the vengeance of nature like we have never seen before in recent history,” he said.
Minister Ndhlovu also noted the current flooding which is affecting households across the country which is a cause for concern.
“Preliminary assessments have revealed that the current flooding is affecting over 250 households in areas around Budiriro 5 and 2, parts of Sunway City close to Zimre park, sections of Willowcreek and Goodhope in the Mount Hampden area, all being some of the affected suburbs in the City of Harare.
“About 1500 houses in Chitungwiza Municipality are experiencing the same hostile flooding, in the sections of Unit N, Unit A, Unit M, Unit O and J, Zengeza 4 and Manyame area. Similar sad reports are coming from the cities of Mutare and Gweru. Indications are that about 10 houses in Chikanga area in Mutare are flooded whilst in Gweru 139 houses in areas such as Tinshell, Mambo, Claremont Park, Riverside, Nashville, Athnol and Woodlands were affected by the flooding,” he said.
He indicated that rural communities have not been spared either and there is a need to strengthen oversight on communal settlements while Rural District Councils must provide clear guidelines on appropriate settlement areas.
The World Wetlands Day is being commemorated under the theme “Water and Wetlands- Inseparable for Life”, a theme that seeks to impress on the importance of wetlands as a source of freshwater and to implore on their conservation and garner for action towards restoring the degraded wetlands and stop any further wetland loss.
Global statistics show that 10 billion tonnes of water are used every day of which 70% is used for food cultivation, 22% consumed by industry and energy. Water use has increased six-fold in 100 years and continues to rise by 1% annually yet only 2.5% of water on Earth is freshwater, mostly stored in glaciers, ice caps and underground aquifers and less than 1% of freshwater is usable.
In Zimbabwe, wetlands make up approximately 4% of the Country including dams and lakes. Of the available wetlands in the country, a meagre 21% are stable while 18% are severely degraded and 61% moderately degraded. As such, conservation and wise use of wetlands, therefore, become an unavoidable option for livelihood sustenance in this country.