Mutasa villagers, EMA develop wetland

Wetlands have been at the epicentre of much controversy between city councils and the Environmental Management Agency – but Domborutinhira villagers in Mutasa District have learnt to exploit one to their advantage.

Domborutinhira villagers and EMA officials tour the community garden
Domborutinhira villagers and EMA officials tour the community garden

With the aid of the EMA they have managed to tap water from a wetland situated in their area to irrigate an eight-hectare community garden.

The wetland is situated at a dam supplied by a spring. Since 2008 it has been threatened by riverbank farming and pollution by locals, who were using it as a source of drinking water and laundry after their boreholes broke down. The EMA put up a security fence funded by a grant from its Environmental Fund, through the Mutasa Rural District Council.

The wetland now benefits 120 families from Ward 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 who grow peas, maize, vegetables, beans, potatoes, tomatoes and gem squash.

A committee comprising of Maziva Mafundu (chairman), Cecil Mupunga (vice chair), Beulah Chainda (treasure), Margaret Nyambura as the secretary and some committee members was formed to oversee the day-to-day running of the site. “We are very happy that we have managed to secure our community garden after EMA approached us and funded the fencing of this dam situated at a wetland. More than 120 families have their crops here and we can safely say they are eking out a living from their yields here,” said Headman John Chimboza.

Another local headman, Ben Nemaunga, said “Before EMA came to our rescue, this area was not secure and people used to trespass here and cut down trees and vandalise things.

The area had been reduced to a water point for animals while some families were doing their laundry here, which is highly against the laws of the traditional leadership.

Some other wetlands suffered from such vandalism and no longer produce water.” EMA’s Manicaland provincial manager, Kingston Chitotombe, praised the people for being willing to adopt environmentally friendly programmes. “This program mirrors our vision in sustainable use of wetlands to empower communities. We are not saying people shouldn’t benefit from their natural resources – but we are saying they should benefit from their environment sustainably. As an agency we are there to make sure that this happens,” he said.

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