SAVE the Wetlands and Recreational Open Spaces campaign conducted by Harare Wetlands Trust (HWT) in Harare’s 46 wards with the aim of raising awareness on the importance of protecting and preserving wetlands has gathered momentum as the World Wetlands Day is nigh.
The campaign which started two weeks ago has seen HWT moving around different communities enlightening the local residents on the importance of wetlands and how the city was experiencing water shortages due to development on wetlands.
Recently HWT went to Glenview in Harare where a disability centre wanted to expand into a nearby wetland much to the dissatisfaction of the local residents who expressed sadness over the issue.
A week ago, they also visited Tafara where there were squabbles about the continued invasions and developments taking place on wetlands which have resulted in the area going for more than 20 years without receiving council water.
Currently, Harare is facing water challenges which are being caused by the destruction of wetlands which are primary sources of clean water.
A wetland is a distinct ecosystem that is inundated by water, either permanently or seasonally, where oxygen-free processes prevail.
The primary factor that distinguishes wetlands from other land forms or water bodies is the characteristic vegetation of aquatic plants, adapted to the unique hydric soil.
HWT is a coalition of organizations advocating the protection and preservation of wetlands for sustainable water provisioning within Harare.
In an interview, HWT programs manager Mr Selestino Chari said their main objective was to ensure that the wetlands within communities are protected.
“We want the leadership in those communities, residents associations and the residents at large to come together and say no to developments taking place on wetlands. In some suburbs the residents have not council received water for the past 20 years and most of them are getting water from these wetlands upon digging community boreholes.
“The residents concern was that if development continues to take place on wetlands which are their primary source of water, where are they going to get water. The reason why we are conducting these awareness campaigns in different wards is to pave way for the main event on the 31st of August which is the World Wetlands Day in which we are targeting the executive leadership and all the relevant authorities,” he said.
Mr Chari said there was need for the message of protecting wetlands to reach the executive so that adequate measures can be taken to protect those wetlands that are left and make sure that they are preserved.
“We need them to know that this is not an issue affecting individuals but it is affecting Zimbabweans and we need to petition Parliament, Office of the President and Cabinet, City of Harare, Ministry of Local Government and all the relevant authorities to say we have got a disaster and we need take this as a crisis.
“Currently the issue of water shortages is not being taken as a crisis that is why we have disease outbreaks due to lake of water. Our main target areas are Mabelreign, Monavale, Borrowdale, Greendale, Budiriro and Rugare among other suburbs in all the 46 wards we have in the city,” he said.