Villagers reap benefits from care of wetlands

As Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world today (February 2) in celebrating world wetlands day, Cornorio Nyamaropa, is proud to be part of a group of villagers under Chitsanza Development Association who have managed to protect and preserve wetland areas.

Harvesting of grasses and reeds can be profitable.
Harvesting of grasses and reeds can be profitable.

“We have managed to fence off a number of wetland areas and we are implementing projects such as bee-keeping, and making baskets and chairs from sustainable harvesting of vertivar grass and reeds,” said Mai Nyamaropa.

The United Nations Environment Programme says wetland areas are highly productive and, if protected, can benefit communities by turning them into tourist resorts.

“We are also utilizing wetlands sustainably after the rainy season by cultivating flood crops such as sorghum, rice, wheat and sugar cane,” said Nyamaropa.

Most of the commercial fish species caught in lakes and at sea have their spawning grounds in wetlands.

“As Nyangani Mountain Range is endowed with abundant water resources, this community is also benefiting from fish, “said Joseph Tasosa, Executive Director of the Zimbabwe National Environment Trust, a non-governmental organization training farmers in this district on sustainable utilization of wetlands.

The Environmental Management Agency does not permit any developmental projects or the building of any structures on wetlands,

“EMA allows sustainable utilization of wetlands among other forms of empowerment, “ said Douglas Manzou, an officer based in Nyanga.

The series of training on sustainable use of wetlands given to the community are a recognition that the natural water outlets in this area are the source of larger water bodies like the nearby Gairezi River.

The state of wetlands and such rivers and their course to the sea, has a huge bearing on the welfare of local communities.

Zimbabwe is a signatory to the Ramsar Convention, an inter-governmental treaty on the conservation of wetlands signed in 1971 in Iran.

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