Community Development

Conserve, protect and sustainably utilise natural resources: President Mnangagwa

President Mnangagwa

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has called on the nation to conserve, protect and sustainably utilise the country’s natural resources while officiating at the joint National Clean-Up Exercise; World Wildlife Day; Africa Environment Day and Wangari Maathai Day commemorations held at Lake Chivero in Harare yesterday.

“Our joint commemorations this year are running under the theme, “Clean Environment – My Responsibility”. This theme dovetails with Section 73 of the constitution of Zimbabwe which enshrines that every person has the right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being. The same provides for the need to protect the environment protected for the benefit of present and future generations. The goal of having a clean, safe and healthy environment can only be achieved if every individual, enterprise or organisation, both at local and National level, work together,” President Mnangagwa said.

In 2002 the then Organisation of African Unity designated 3 March every year to be Africa Environment Day, based on the recognition of the numerous environmental challenges confronting the African continent. In January 2012, the African Union adopted a decision calling for the joint celebrations of the Africa Environment Day and Wangari Maathai Day.

The celebration of the Wangari Maathai Day is in recognition of the work and life of the late Prof. Wangari Maathai who dedicated her life to promoting environmental conservation and sustainable development in Africa. Professor Wangari Maathai was an internationally renowned Kenyan environmental and political activist.

In 1977, she founded the Green Belt Movement, an environmental non-governmental organization focused on the planting of trees, environmental conservation, and women’s rights. In 1984, she was awarded the Right Livelihood Award, and in 2004, she became the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for “her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace”.

Wangari Mathaai Day is being commemorated in Zimbabwe to celebrate all greening efforts by individuals, corporates and communities. Many people have responded to the call to action from the slogan ‘Tree Planting is Everyone’s Responsibility.” The occasion symbolises the challenge and hope for Zimbabwe aiming to raise awareness on sustainable forest management among all stakeholders in different sectors of society.

President Mnangagwa said, Zimbabwe, like many other countries, is faced with the challenges of massive environmental degradation which now threaten food security making it ever more important for us to double our efforts to protect and rehabilitate the environment through tree planting.

“It is for this reason that my Government is running a National Agroforestry Program, which promotes the extensive planting of fruit trees. The value, role and contributions of Agroforestry in light of current global environmental challenges, cannot be over-emphasised. Promoting the planting appropriate trees on farms will make a huge positive impact on the environment and related national and global problems.

“As a country, we are commemorating the Africa Environment Day under the theme “My Clean Environment – My Pride”. The theme calls for all citizens to take action and ensure a clean, safe and healthy environment for all. One of the foremost challenges bedeviling the country is solid waste management.”

The major drivers contributing to waste management challenges include high population growth in urban centres leading to high rate of waste generation; limited capacity of local authorities to collect and dispose solid waste; discharge of untreated effluent from industries and littering by citizens. The primary source of litter in the cities, among others, has been pedestrians throwing unwanted materials in the streets, dumping of waste by shop owners and the discarding of waste by motorist through the windows.

In order to overcome some of the waste management challenges the country is facing, President Mnangagwa called upon stakeholders to implement green interventions like adopting green industrial processes, and urged local authorities to provide adequate waste bins at strategic and convenient sites for pedestrians.

He encouraged motorists to have litter bags in their vehicles for placing litter instead of throwing litter out the window. Residents, vendors and shop owners were told to avoid dumping of waste at street corners and their backyards and instead engage in sound waste management practices such as waste separation reusing, recycling and reduction of waste generated at source.

“There is need to upscale recycling so as to accommodate the huge volumes of waste that are being produced. In line with the declaration I made to clean all environs, I urge users and beneficiaries of Lake Chivero to ensure the Lake is regularly cleaned and protected from all sources of pollution. I am glad that a lot of effort has been put in ensuring that this resort Lake is protected and cleaned. This will go a long way in promoting aesthetic value of this tourist attraction. However still more needs to be done and it is everyone’s responsibility especially those who are running their business enterprises around here and those who come to relax here to ensure we keep this place clean.”

The World Wildlife day is commemorated globally every year on the 3rd of March. The day was proclaimed on the 20th of December 2013 by the United Nations General Assembly as the day of signature of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. The purpose of the commemoration is to raise awareness on the significance and importance of the world’s wild animals and plants. The Theme for 2018 World Wildlife Day is “Life below water; for people and planet”.

The World Wildlife Day 2019 aligns closely with the Sustainable Development Goal 14 – Life below water, which focuses on marine and freshwater species, and is an opportunity to highlight the critical issues and values of marine and freshwater wildlife to our everyday lives. The occasion will also celebrate successful initiatives to conserve and sustainably manage these species, and to scale up support for future initiatives.

Ninety seven percent (97%) of the water on the Earth is salt water and only three percent (3%) is fresh water. Oceans and seas make up two-thirds of the world’s surface, and due to their depth even more than 99% of earth’s liveable habitat.

The resulting richness of ecosystems and species, Life below water, has sustained human civilisation and development for millennia, from providing food and nourishment, material for handicraft and construction to the very air we breathe. Fifty percent (50%) of the oxygen on Earth is produced in the ocean. Yet despite, or precisely because of, the perceived limitless nature of the oceans, marine and freshwater living resources, their ability to sustain mankind and contribute to sustainable development has been severely impacted by unregulated or poorly managed human activities, including unregulated fisheries, pollution and climate change.

President Mnangagwa said fisheries and Aquaculture play significant roles in socio-economic development, revenue generation, creation of employment, household diet and livelihoods for rural communities that are often poor and vulnerable. Zimbabwe has approximately 10,000 dams of varying sizes, which offers a huge potential for fisheries. The fishery sector comprises capture fisheries, aquaculture and recreational fisheries. Zimbabwe has 132 types of fish in its water bodies and numerous plants that live under water.

The Head of State and Government said currently, the fisheries sector produces approximately 21,000 tonnes of fish per annum valued at over USD$ 80,000,000. Approximately 80% of Zimbabwe’s fish protein production is provided by the fisheries of Lake Kariba. About 90% of fish production in Zimbabwe is from water bodies within the Parks and Wildlife Estate, dominated by Lake Kariba, with the rest under the jurisdiction of local authorities. The sector plays a vital role to the food security of the country and employs about 4,700 people.

“However, fisheries face a number of challenges that include weak governance and institutional capacities, over-fishing, climate change and disasters, human-wildlife conflict, pollution and habitat degradation posing serious implications on the contributions of fisheries and aquaculture to the “Blue Economy”. The ‘Blue Economy’ is an emerging concept which encourages better management of our water and life under water resources in order to increase the contribution of water and life within it to the socio-economic development of our nation.

“In order to harness this opportunity, Government is developing the fisheries sector. Parks and Wildlife Management Authority has been stocking dams with fish fingerlings, installing fish cages for cage culture, setting up cooperatives and training communities on management of fish resources. The main of this program is to increase the participation of local communities in livelihood activities linked to wildlife conservation, improve income generation and protein sources and ensure food security at household levels. In this regard, I have followed with interest the programme which Zimparks is rolling out of promoting fisheries in communities,” President Mnangagwa added.

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Byron Adonis Mutingwende