The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) has slammed government over its reluctance to take action against the destruction of the Cleveland wetlands through construction of houses and a vocational training centre.
In a statement Monday morning, CHRA bemoaned the gap between policy and practice on protection of water sources and ecologically sensitive areas in the country.
“Evidence in the past is clear that people whose houses are built on wetlands have been experiencing perpetual flooding within their homes every rainy season hence allowing construction of homes in any wetland is a recipe for disaster.
“Events at Cleveland Catchment area reflects the current wave of destruction of wetlands at national level,” said CHRA.
“CHRA also highlighted that the continual destruction of wetlands will adversely affect disaster preparedness plans against flooding as we head towards 2021-2022 rain season.
The Cleveland wetland developments continue to take place despite the issuance of an Environmental Protection Order by the Environmental Management Agency (EMA).
Meanwhile, cabinet recently approved the proposed National Wetlands Policy and Guidelines on Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Management.
According to Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Monica Mutsvangwa said the Policy will facilitate the establishment of an effective and efficient institutional and legal framework for integrated management, and capacity building within relevant institutions involved in the management of wetlands.
Mutsvangwa said the treasury will avail in tranches, the resources required to kick-start the rehabilitation of 20 wetlands, two per province, before the onset of the 2021/2022 rainfall season.
Wetlands are important as they filter water by breaking down harmful pollutants including chemicals, separate them from the water, and use the chemicals as fertilizer for vegetation growing on the wetland. They are also natural sewage systems, filtering out waste and running clean water into rivers.