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Chivero Challenge advancing environmental preservation, tourism, and wellness of people

Canoe racing

The Chivero Challenge is an international, multidisciplinary event that is advancing environmental preservation, sports recreation, tourism, health, and wellness as well as grassroots sport and recreation development.

This was revealed by Mr I. Vambe, the Director of Recreation of the Sports and Recreation Commission in a speech delivered on behalf of Hon Kirsty Coventry, the Minister of Youths, Sports and Recreation at the Chivero Challenge that got underway on 31 October 2020 dubbed “Live Again”.

“The Chivero Challenge is an international, multidisciplinary event designed to advance environmental preservation, sports recreation, tourism, health, and wellness as well as grassroots sport and recreation development. This year the Challenge will focus on the following sports activities: Marathon, Horse Riding, Mountain Biking, Rowing, and Enduro,” Mr. Vambe said.

Lake Chivero, formerly called Lake McIlwaine was constructed in 1952 for various purposes which include irrigation, commercial fishing, and above all as the main source of municipal water supply for the city of Harare.

This wetland has become a source of livelihood and business for many families through various tourism and recreational activities.

The lake was declared a Ramsar wetland of international importance on 3 January 2013 because of its great hydrological importance to the country.

“The 2020 challenge focuses on finishing the race and improving athletes’ time. It is our hope that the challenge will continue to attract both professional athletes and amateurs from a broad range of abilities, interests, and spectators. After today’s and tomorrow’s events, funds raised will assist with proper environmental management within the lake through Kuimba Shiri Bird Park and Chivero Basin Conservancy,” said Mr. Vambe.

He added that the government of Zimbabwe is moving forward in supporting sport and recreation to the marginalized and vulnerable by construction and refurbishing of sport and recreation facilities at Tugwi Mukosi, and Chambuta Children’s Home to mention just a few.

Gary Stafford, the proprietor of Kuimba Shiri Bird Sanctuary and initiator of the Lake Chivero Challenge said Lake Chivero provides an ideal breeding and feeding environment for over 400 bird species including 20 species of migratory waterbirds.

Over the years, the wetland has deteriorated due to heavy pollution of raw domestic sewage, raw industrial effluent, and urban wastes into the river drainage systems that eventually feed into Chivero. Poor agricultural practices have contributed to major siltation problems within the lake and not forgetting water hyacinth an invasive alien species which has invaded this water body.

Elizabeth Gulugulu Machache, the Project Manager of the African Youth Initiative on Climate Change Zimbabwe (AYICCZim) is encouraging the participation of youths in the Chivero Challenge to raise awareness of critical environmental initiatives among the youths through sports and recreation.

“As the youths, we are today’s and tomorrow’s leaders. In that regard, we should take a leading role by fully participating in the sporting disciplines on offer in the Lake Chivero Challenge. Besides taking part in sports, we should be leading in removing the litter and be on guard against organisations and individuals that continue to pollute the lake and the environment in general,” the youthful Machache said.

As a way of biodiversity restoration, wetlands protection, and improving recreational facilities in Zimbabwe, Kuimba Shiri is partnering organizations like the African Youth Initiative on Climate Change, Sunshine Zimbabwe, the Environmental Management Agency, and Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) in using sport as an awareness tool in saving Lake Chivero.

About the author

Byron Adonis Mutingwende