SHURUGWI - United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) through the Global Environmental Facility Small Grant project has injected over $49 000 for the protection of wetlands in Shurugwi District.
The project is aimed at empowering local communities with agricultural projects.
The project, run by Shurugwi Partners was mooted in 2008 and has since conserved three wetlands, Chitora, Faqar and Simbarevanhu, which had been affected over the years through stream bank cultivation.
Shurugwi Partners, programmes officer, Pascal Manyakaidze told the Daily News that the preservation of wetlands had helped several communities.
“We conducted a biodiversity survey to determine the stock, we realised that the wetlands are part of the global water cycle, hence started this project which has immensely helped the communities,” Manyakaidze said.
The Environment Management Agency (Ema) does not allow cultivation in wetlands, but these communities were exempted after drafting proposals.
Shurugwi Partners has since linked the farmers to the market where they sell their produce which include vegetables, carrots, cabbages and herbs.
“We have linked the farmers to markets like Sevco and Unki Mine, which have been forthcoming in buying the produce,” he said.
He further said the aim was not just to conserve wetlands, but to empower communities through agro-based projects.
“Through this project, we have seen that local communities have a great potential to develop socially and economically according to the cluster of food and nutrition in ZimAsset,” Manyakaidze said.
Agriculture in these wetlands is purely organic and cheaper for the villagers while maintaining an ecological integrity.
There are 34 flora and 56 fauna in these wetlands, but Manyakaidze said there is potential of more as the protected wetlands have the capacity to regenerate.
Zimbabwe adopted the 1971 Convention on Wetlands (Ransar Convention) which promotes the conservation of wetlands throughout for socio-economic development.