The Sunday News
Sharon Chimenya, Masvingo Correspondent
The continued human interference on the country’s wetlands and swamps will result in serious water scarcity problems due to dried up wetlands and silted rivers, a senior Government official has warned.
In an interview in Masvingo where he was attending a climate change mainstreaming workshop last week, the Director for Climate Change in the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Mr Washington Zhakata said the country was already grappling with some of the problems associated with human activity around wetlands. He warned that if the trend continues for the next 10 years, there would be no flowing rivers in the country due to siltation.
“We are in danger of depleted water sources in the next coming years. If we continue with business as usual in the next 10 years we won’t have any running river in the country especially in the inland country except those very big ones from the mountains but otherwise these rivers would have silted totally so we have to stop these land degradations,” he said.
Mr Zhakata criticised some local authorities that are parcelling out land to their clients and letting some of them settle on wetlands with some building their homes very close to the water bodies.
“Some of the settlements in the cities already infringe the laws; they really don’t respect the laws in terms of the preservation of the wetlands in the cities. All areas which are near a river or tributaries have a wetland which the councils are now dishing out to various land seekers yet we are reducing the rate of recharge in our water bodies.
“In some cases these settlements are close to the river bodies which will open up and if we are to have heavy storms there will be siltation which is occurring in our rivers. It is not only in towns but also in the rural areas where we noticed some wetlands just drying up due to the land use change by the local people.”
Headman Musekiwa Marongere Munodawafa of Ward 1 in Zimuto area, 14 km north of Masvingo City said that the wetlands were drying up in his area due to the interference by the local people with the spiritual world that of mermaids.
Meanwhile, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Mr Munesu Munodawafa urged the local leaderships to educate their communities on matters of preserving the environment in order to combat climate change by desisting from cutting down of trees, stream bank cultivation and starting veld fires.
He said that despite the country being guided by a robust legal, policy and institutional framework and blessed with a high level of biodiversity with global significance, the country is experiencing environmental challenges which include water, land and air pollution, littering, mushrooming of illegal waste dumps, siltation, illegal mining, veld fires, deforestation, climate change, poaching and biodiversity loss.