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Veld fires destroying biodiversity, human lives

Veld fires

By Joyce Mukucha

The Ministry of Tourism, Hospitality and Industry in conjunction with the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) and other stakeholders urged Hurungwe residents to desist from causing veld fires.

It has been observed that in Zimbabwe, the Hurungwe area has the highest rate of triggering veld fires. According to statistics, 122 people in this area have died between the years 2005 and 2019 due to veld fires where five of them died last year.

Speaking during a National Fire Launch Week held in Hurungwe, Mashonaland West Province in Chief Chundu’s area, on the 1st of August 2019, the Permanent secretary for Tourism, Hospitality and Industry Munesu Munodawafa emphasised that it was important to ensure that there was sustainable utilisation and protection of Zimbabwe’s environmental goods and services through growing of many trees. He said it was his ministry’s duty together with EMA to guarantee that trees are being planted and maintained so as to create a conducive living environment for the inhabitants. Munodawafa said on the National Tree Planting Day, they will plant 1000 trees at Chitindiva Primary School under Chief Chundu.

The launch ran under the theme, “Protecting the Environment” which is this year’s theme in as much as shielding the environment is concerned.

In his speech which was read on his behalf by the Minister of State for Mashonaland West Province, Honourable Mary Mliswa, Vice President Kembo Mohadi said it was important to safeguard the environment in an ecological way which benefits the majority. He reiterated that veld fires were contributing more to the reduction of the nation’s wealth.

“Whenever veld fires occur, there is destruction of livestock, crops as well as loss of life. We have to follow Professor Mthuli Ncube’s policy of Transitional Stabilisation Policy to safeguard the environment. Let’s join hands in protecting the environment. Livestock is being lost here in Mashonaland West due to tick bone disease which is caused by veld fires.

“We no longer want such tendency to continue in Hurungwe. Leaders, it’s your duty to make sure that the environment is protected. The President’s 2030 vision of building an enhanced nation can only be achieved if we are able to know the importance of the environment and knowing good means of preserving it,” Hon Mliswa said.

Addressing the people at the launch, Mliswa also urged the councillors, and headmen to safeguard the environment to ensure that Hurungwe grows into a land with attractive forestry. She highlighted that government’s policy of Command Agriculture can only be rewarding and beneficial to everyone if lands are being well-maintained. It was the police’ task, she said to take serious measures on those who fail to abide by the law of not burning the forests. Tobacco farmers in Hurungwe were also urged to support the Forestry Commission’s project called Tobacco Wood Energy which aims at promoting rural afforestation. Community members were encouraged to curb deforestation which as a result is also contributing to the destruction of environment in the area.

Organisations that are taking strides and efforts to work together with the government have been applauded and commended for striving to protect the environment with people in mind so that there is a clean and healthy environment, which is not harmful.

The stakeholders include Carbon Green, UNDP, and Kariba REED+ Project among others. There is a project called Global Environment Facility which was initiated last year in Zimbabwe that is working together with EMA in preserving the environment in Mashonaland West. It has the motto, “Strengthening Biodiversity and Ecosystems Management and Climate Smart Land in the Middle-Lower Zambezi Region of Zimbabwe. The programme delivers campaigns of land preservation in wards 7, 8 and 9 of Hurungwe. It also expanses to Mbire covering all 17 wards as well as 19 wards in Muzarabani.

During the launch, more than 15 people from different villages were awarded with certificates for their commitment of finding role in safety ecosystem as well as finding ways to work together with community members in protecting the environment.

The environment monitors who received certificates include, Nomatter Mulisi, Tavengwa Muringanisa, Spiwe Nyamakalo, and Dennis Nyamahwe among others. They were applauded by the Permanent Secretary and encouraged to continue being observers of the environment working together with community members in shunning veld fires in the province.

About the author

Byron Adonis Mutingwende