Wetlands protection is needed for Right to Clean Water in Zimbabwe – Human Rigts Watch has said.
Dewa Mavhinga, the Southern Africa Director with the Africa Division at Human Rights Watch, has called upon Zimbabwean authorities to take urgent action to protect and stop the ongoing and unprecedented degradation of wetlands, particularly in the capital, Harare stating that they are important for several reasons.
“They breakdown harmful pollutants such as chemicals from the water hence filtering the water and using the chemicals as fertilizer for vegetation growing on the wetland,” he said, noting that wetlands are natural sewage systems, filtering out waste and running clean water into rivers.
Despite Zimbabwe being a party to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, which seeks to protect and preserve wetlands, Dewa says enough is not being done to educate citizens, policymakers, local and national government authorities on the importance of wetlands and on strengthening mechanisms for their protection.
According a local environmental group, Harare’s only water source – Lake Chivero has been greatly affected by illegal construction on wetlands that feed into it.
Poor urban planning and insufficient regulation, coupled with lack of appreciation of the importance of wetlands, has resulted in the destruction of Harare’s wetlands.
“The illegal housing construction projects on the wetlands in Harare and Chitungwiza have turned the wetlands into concrete jungles,” Mangaliso Ndlovu, Zimbabwe’s environment minister, complained.
Dewa urges the Zimbabwean government to re-look its action plan on the protection of wetlands, to fulfill its duty to the “right to clean water” for its citizens, which impacts the rights to health and life.
The World Wetlands Day is observed on 2 February every year. The 2020 ran under the theme; Wetlands and Biodiversity.