Declare Harare a protected area

Harare faces a devastating water crisis as a result of the persistent destruction of wetlands and environmentalists have challenged the government to declare the capital a protected site as a way of averting the continued depletion of underground water.

Harare largely depends on wetlands for water supply but these important sources of water have been under threat as a result of land invasions, residential and industrial expansion projects that are being carried out without acknowledging the need to save water sources.

The Chief Executive Officer of Birdlife Zimbabwe, Julia Pierini said the government, residents and the business sector need to come up with viable options that will balance between the need to develop residentially or industrially as well as the vital need to protect wetlands.

“Harare is heavily dependent on underground water and if we continue to destroy wetlands, we will be compromising our water supply. We have to come up with options because you cannot have a city without water. Of course people need houses, they need to eat but what is the use of having a house when you do not have water?” said Pierini.

She highlighted that as a result of farming activities being carried out on wetlands, Harare’s Lake Chivero was quickly silting up.

“Urban agriculture is destroying wetlands and this is resulting in soil erosion and what happens is that the soil gets swept into Lake Chivero. It has to be noted that water scarcity will impact negatively on development. No water – no sustainable development” said Pierini.

She was speaking during a media workshop which sought to equip journalists with the necessary skills and knowledge to enable them to report accurately on wetlands’ importance.

Zimbabwe is a signatory to the Ramsar Convention on the protection of wetlands and Pierini added that “Harare must be nominated as a Ramsar wetland or UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. In Zimbabwe, wetlands are protected under the Environmental Management Act.

It came out during the media workshop that factors leading to wetlands destruction in Harare include corruption, abuse of power, lack of will as well as ignorance among Harare residents.

It was resolved that there is need to educate communities on the need to preserve wetlands as well as to create linkages between journalists and responsible authorities as a way of aiding efforts to preserve wetlands.

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