Harare shockingly dirty, polluted: Environment minister

HARARE - Shocking levels of pollution in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, have seen the city degrade into one of the dirtiest cities in the world, Environment minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri said.

Muchinguri-Kashiri — who also lashed out at officials for illegally settling people on wetlands — expressed concern over continued depletion of the country’s flora, saying it was turning part of the country into a desert.

“Harare has become one of the dirtiest cities. We litter, throw kaylites and plastics out of our car windows. Our drainages are constantly blocked,” she said.

“All those cities we used to mock are now laughing at us,” Muchinguri-Kashiri said, adding “Rwanda has become better than us”.

“What type of a people have we become? These plastics end up in our dams. Can you imagine raw sewer in this day and age,” she said, in apparent reference to urban councils who have been discharging raw sewage into water bodies.

Muchinguri-Kashiri further said that “my ministry is very concerned about the high level of siltation of water bodies across the country”.

“A good number of our dams and weirs have lost from a quarter to over half of their storage capacity due to siltation,” she said.

She lamented bad land use practices such as stream bank cultivation, illegal settlements, settling on wetlands, mountain slopes and indiscriminate cutting of trees which were increasingly becoming rampant across the country.

High population growth and poverty have also opened the door for significant loss of soil fertility, soil erosion, deforestation, water depletion and loss of biodiversity.

Muchinguri-Kashiri said “chiefs are giving us problems by giving land in areas that are not suitable for human settlement”.

“We say whites were bad but they knew how to settle people. But now we say we are free yet we are destroying our trees, settling on wetlands and engaging in all sorts of environmental degradation. We really need a paradigm shift.”

The fragile state of Zimbabwe’s environment has now posed critical challenges to both human development and economic growth.

Turning to the water crisis, the former Women Affairs minister said she will push government to declare the water shortage a national disaster to enable mobilisation of donor assistance to alleviate the crisis.

She noted that Zimbabwe’s severe water crisis will not be over soon, with the impeding rains unlikely to improve the dire situation, which has been compounded by dangerously low national dam storage levels and massive pollution.

“We are expecting normal to above normal rainfall but even if it rains, it doesn’t mean things will improve,” she said.

The depressed dam levels which follow below normal rainfall during the 2015/16 season and an El Nino-induced drought have seen local authorities introducing stringent water rationing schedules.

At the same time, declining ground water levels have piled more misery on ordinary Zimbabweans who had turned to boreholes for solace.

“As of October 20, national dam storage levels are averaging 41, 9 percent which is 20, 4 percentage points below the normal average of 62, 3 percent for this time of the year,” Muchinguri-Kashiri said last week.

“Masvingo dams have the lowest levels averaging 21 percent while Mashonaland West are the highest at 73 percent full.”

Comments (6)

tell tell abt this zany minister. is she a hardworker? is she delivering.

kelly - 24 October 2016

Our Environment Minister is entirely correct and I dont think the nation really understands how serious this issue is. We need tough action and tough laws to resolve this. Maybe a "litter picking day" is in order for the entire nation, protecting of wetlands and stiff penalties for stream bank cultivation.

Charles Lock - 24 October 2016

Clean up operations are needed. City Council needs to its job. All residents should be responsible for cleanup outside their homes. and deep clean should be every week.

P J Rudolph - 24 October 2016

A-ah, imi ambuya imi, mava kutanga kuzviona nhasi ? Isu vamwe takazviona kare tikataura tataurazwe. Munoti vaMugabe kugara vakatiza nyika yavo vachienda Singapore kutizeyi ? Vanotiza tsvina yemuHarare vachienda Singapore kwakachena kuti (semugwere) kuda vanganaya. Tsvina inogwarisa even kuitarisa chete usina kuibata. Asika handina tsitsi zhinji nekusakurumidza kunaya kwavo nekuti ndivo ivo mbune vanokonzeresa poverty munyika yedu. Mangwana chaiko vakangomuka vakazvifunga kuti Harare ive Sun Shine City zvekare munovhunduka mapindukiro anoita zvinhu.

Masamba Akareyo - Tanganda - 24 October 2016

makagarisa madofo monzvimbo dzisidzo nekuda kuvhoterwa ,nhasi mochemei. matanga kuzviona nhasi kuti HARARE ine svina everyday mur kufambira kupi? isu tatojaira svina isu since 20yrs ago.

observer - 25 October 2016

Thank you for putting that article up. I have contentions with with building societies who are selling houses without making any initiative for the supply of refuse collection bins. Of specific mention is FBC Building Society. I fully understand it is a city council prerogative but it should be part of their Social Responsibility to keep the areas where their proud banners are displayed clean. I doubt it would cost them much to put one big bin on every central point where their beloved residents can drop in their litter. This not only saves the City council resources in terms of doing house by house refuse collection but it also makes recycling easy too. Models in countries like Canada and the Netherlands can also be followed where the bins are specifically designed to cater for glass, paper and plastic separately. The world is advocating for going green but there is plenty money that is being lost when rubbish is just dumped on the road side and next to the small streams and rivers. FBC Building Society kindly do something in terms of your social responsibility in the areas that you put up houses for sale especially those in Waterfalls along Montgomerry Drive. Litter has become the order of the day ever since your beloved buyers took occupation because your planning was entirely bad. It is not just about selling houses and getting money but it is also about looking after the welfare of your people to in terms of their health especially now in times of typhoid and cholera. FBC Building Society do something before the houses you built become an eye sore with flying litter just in front of your big banners. Worried and concerned resident of Waterfalls.

Jack - 25 October 2016

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