HARARECity Council’s Environment Management Committee (EMC) says it is working towards reclaiming all the wetlands in the city with a view to protect them for future purposes.
The issue of wetlands has been very topical especially in Harare where some property developers have been building structures on various wetlands around the city.
Wetlands are a critical part of our natural environment. They protect shores from wave action, reduce the impacts of floods, absorb pollutants and improve water quality.
They prevent flooding by holding water much like a sponge, by doing so, wetlands help keep river levels normal and filter and purify the surface water.
Wetlands are so important in that they accept water during storms and whenever water levels are high. When water levels are low, wetlands slowly release water.
Addressing the media during a tour of the Morton Jeffery and abstraction point on Lake Chivero, the EMC chairperson Councillor Kudzai Kadzombe (Marlborough Ward 41) said her committee will leave no stone unturned in trying to protect the wetlands in the city.
“Wetlands are something that my committee is passionate about and as a start we have actually started working with two organisations Harare Wetlands Trust and Community Water Alliance, to protect for a start 11 wetlands.
“And in the future we are planning on reclaiming most of them, because you know we actually really do understand the importance of wetlands and it’s been a fight that has been going on and at times because of political interferences and staff you know there has been a lot of building and construction on wetlands.
“But as an incoming council this is something we really want to claim and we want residence to know the importance of wetlands and at the end of the day for our future generations to actually then benefit from what we are doing in terms of wetlands so it’s something that we will take up seriously,” she said.
Speaking at the same occasion, Gary Stafford from Kuimba Shiri Bird Park depletion of wetlands has been causing flash flooding and loss of water in Lake Chivero and that there are still many wetlands that need protection from agriculture and construction initiatives.
“If look towards wetlands in Warren Park, if you look at them you will see trees are gone people are building on them as they want that is causing flash flooding and we are losing our water to the Zambezi which should still be here.
“This is your life-source, if you don’t look after Lake Chivero you will bath in Coca-Cola.
“Lake Chivero was declared a Ramsar site that’s International Convention of Wetlands but the shortfall on that was that it only included the boundary just outside Kuimba Shiri, but there are extensive wetlands far bigger than Mornavale, far bigger than Cleveland, and far bigger than all of them put together and they have no protection and that’s a direct source of water for here (Chivero) we need to protect them,” he said.
Meanwhile, Jean-Betrand Mhandu who has been working with various organisations to help clean Lake Chivero blamed politics and multiple ownership of the Lake as the main cause of water challenges and siltation.
“The question is who is to jump-start or take the initiative because when we talk of the settlements around and are contributing to the siltation you will see there is the District Administrator and the Councillor, but the councillor cannot remove those people because they were allocated politically.
“So some of the requests that are there are for us as stakeholders to work together but the person to action it now is the question because the Recreational Department are saying they cannot do that or anything in that aspect, they can only focus of recreation aspect, the Ministry of Environment they say we only take care of the environment hub, but then who is there to take care because there are so many substances we have bottle, plastic and so many staff that we have been removing over the years as a collective action of organisations but the people who are responsible are the one we should like to be identified and get in touch with or at least lets have an inter-ministerial committee,” he said.