BY VANESSA GONYE
GOKWE North is facing massive destruction of its wetlands, with at least seven of the 11 in the area having completely shrunk, an official has said.
Speaking on the sidelines of the World Water Day commemorations recently, Gokwe North district environmental officer, Allan Machenjedze said destruction of wetlands was one of the reasons why the district is facing severe water shortages.
“Out of the 11 wetlands in the district, only four are flourishing as a result of good wetland management practices. The depleted ones were because of poor wetland management practices emanating from human activities including farming on wetlands, streambank cultivation as well as other developmental projects on wetlands.
“However, the remaining, owing to observance of good wetland management practices which include the indigenous knowledge system (chivanhu), wetlands such as Dewe in ward 25 copper queen area, where no modern material is allowed to harvest the water, have remained undisturbed,” Machenjedze said.
He said efforts to preserve the remaining wetlands were being made, while the depleted ones will have to be rehabilitated to avert water challenges in the area, which have also affected farming activities.
“Plans are there to reinstate the depleted wetlands as we have already developed project proposals to fence them off and we have also stopped unsustainable activities within the wetlands catchment areas. We have also introduced community consolidated gardens and urged them to desist from individual gardening as this would encourage streambank cultivation, river siltation, water pollution, among other things.
“We are moving them from highest flood plains of river systems, drill boreholes for them, provide them with fencing material and inputs to kick-start the project,” Machenjedze said.
Recently, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Environment and Tourism called for the swift alignment of laws and domestication of conventions on the protection of wetlands to curb construction on and destruction of wetlands.
Speaking at a breakfast meeting on the future of wetlands in the country, committee chairperson, Consilia Chinanzvavana said the remaining 40% of the country’s wetlands needed to be protected through necessary legislation.
“We need to make sure necessary steps in ensuring that stiffer penalties are taken so as to discourage the continued destruction of wetlands. EMA and the other relevant bodies are not implementing what they stand for that is why we still have people constructing their houses on wetlands. Low fines do not restrict commission of crimes on wetlands,” Chinanzvavana said while calling for stiffer penalties and adherence to environmental laws.