The tour follows the continued plunder of wetlands, which are important water sources for Harare.
Stakeholders present during the tour visited Warren Park, Budiriro and Malbereign areas as well as the wetland located near Long Cheng Plaza in Belvedere.
Wetlands are under continued threat mainly due to urban agriculture and construction projects.
The Harare Wetlands Trust submitted to the Minister that there were a lot of grey areas concerning the issuance of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) certificates.
HWT said this had paved way for the continued invasion of wetlands hence the need to create ‘a one stop shop’ for the issuance of EIA certificates.
HWT also submitted that the Trust was keen to bring more evidence of wetlands invasion in Harare and that a tour of these areas would be critical.
Minister Chidawu welcomed HWT’s submissions and bemoaned that the battle to save wetlands has been raging for a number of years but the most inhibiting factor was flagrant violation of the law as well as abuse of political power.
He agreed with HWT’s position that there is an urgent need to save wetlands adding that failure to save the important water sources will result in Harare running dry.
Minister Chidawu also highlighted that urban agriculture was a serious threat to wetlands’ survival and vowed to take action against urban farmers cultivating on wetlands.
It came out during the tour that violation of the law, abuse of power, corruption and urban agriculture were the major factors behind wetlands destruction.
Below are Minister Chidawu’s comments after the wetland tour;
“In Harare Metropolitan Province the government, environmental groups and residents have for some time been running a seemingly unending battle to save wetlands from destruction due to illegal settlements.
Individuals have invaded our wetlands with impunity, constructing residential properties, commercial facilities such as shopping malls and other structures . It is quite disheartening to note that our wetlands which are vital for human survival because of their countless benefits or ecosystem services have fallen victim to these individuals who have not taken cognizance of the fact that these same wetlands are essential for the provision of ground water, flood control, climate change mitigation, food protection and biodiversity.
In Harare alone, there are 30 wetlands under the threat of illegal settlements. Let me take this opportunity dear colleagues to remind you that we are supposed to be law abiding citizens and as the Minister of State for Harare, I will leave no stone unturned to ensure we bring back sanity by making sure that all illegal settlements on our vital wetlands are removed.
In this regard I will order the Environmental Management Agency, the Harare City Council and law enforcement agents to work out a programme to weed out all the identified illegal settlements on our wetlands.”
HWT welcomes the Minister Chidawu’s remarks and we anticipate his continued efforts in saving wetlands which are important sources of water for Harare.
No Wetlands No Water.Post published in: Featured