BY MUNASHE MUDZINGWA
ILLEGAL gold mining activities in most parts of the country are causing massive land degradation, but some enterprising Kwekwe women have turned the ugly mine dumps into vegetable gardens.
In Kwekwe, a gold mining concern located next to Grant shopping centre in Mbizo 7 pumps huge amounts of water which just drains away into the neighbouring communities.
Elderly women in the area have started harvesting the water and redirecting it to their vegetable gardens on reclaimed mineshafts.
Esria Vhumbukwa, one of the pioneers of the project said the idea was introduced by a member’s later husband.
Other community members bought into the idea, and they formed a group which is now benefitting from the free-flowing water.
“The idea was initially started by a fellow resident’s late husband called Mr Zimano who wanted to pursue the idea of garden farming as a means to raise school fees for his children as he was unemployed.
“Together with Irene Gwitima, we chose to deepen these holes so that they could hold more water for longer periods especially in these increasingly dry spells.
“To date, the water reservoirs that we created are assisting members of our community in catering for their domestic needs,” she said.
Mbizo ward 2 development committee chairperson Simon Matisvo hailed the women for their creativity in fighting environmental degradation and turning wasteland into a commercial venture.
He admitted that that water spilling from the illegal mining shafts could be preserved better for community use in the face of acute shortages.
“There is a lot of water that is being wasted as a result of the illegal mining activities in this area and this is disappointing because we are wasting a scarce resource.
“I strongly support the initiative of the elderly women that have executed with perfection the idea of harvesting water for other important socio-economic activities like watering gardens and for home use.
“Government must take steps to support the miners with requisite equipment to avoid wasting water and also support the elderly women with boreholes so that the community will not run short.
Meanwhile, the effects of environmental degradation due to illegal mining activities in gold-rich communities has been a cause of concern over the years.
Scenes of abandoned gold shafts in residential areas have become a permanent feature in Kwekwe, a city that prides itself as “the now city in touch with tomorrow.”
A recent United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health report states that water is inextricably connected to the development of all nations.
The report notes that by 2030, the world faces a catastrophic situation where demand for water will rise by an estimated 30%.
Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG6) ‘Water Goal’ notes that the goal should be to ensure availability and sustainability of water as it is the key resource to the attainment of agenda 2030.
- This story was produced under the WAN-IFRA Media Freedom African Media Grants initiative