Environment

EMA intensifies awareness on nationwide environmental protection

The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) is on a nationwide blitz targeting major
environmental concerns. The thrust of the blitz is to impress on best practices to protect the
environment from degradation especially due to illegal activities in the environment.
Sand poaching is one major environmental concern especially around and within major urban
areas across the country, hence regular raids in sand poaching and sand vending hotspots. A
raid on both sand vending sites and on those in possession of sand sourced through poaching,
was recently done in Harare over a period of 2 days, with more such raids intended to be
done on adhoc basis, in an effort to reduce land degradation due to sand poaching. A total of
19 offenders were ticketed for vending in sand or in possession of sand sourced through
poaching, and 17 Environmental Protection Orders were issued to prohibit sand vending. To
that end, the Agency is calling upon local authorities to designate sand abstraction sites which
they should manage, and ensure sand abstraction is done in a regulated manner from
registered sites to prevent poaching; and without harming the environment.
Land degradation due to mining is another topical environmental concern in the country. A
recent survey done by Environmental Management Agency (EMA), suggest that a total of 11
163 ha of land and a stretch of 1 555km of riverine ecosystems have been degraded country
wide due to illegal mining activities. The survey also identified degraded mining hotspot areas
to inform state of the environment reporting, decision making and for regulation purposes. To
that end, several regulatory operations are lined up targeting illegal mining activities, and
registered miners who are not complying with environmental regulations. Such activities are
currently ongoing in Mashonaland West, East and Central, Midlands and Matabeleland South,
with more provinces still to be covered. At the time of reporting, about 1461 inspections had
been carried out resulting in 84 offenders ticketed with fines ranging between level 7 and 14,
and 38 environmental protection orders served to prohibit any further environmental damage.
An Environmental protection Order remains a critical statutory document in the protection of
the environment, and once served upon a defaulter to address identified environmental
concerns, the Agency follows up on compliance to the order, and only get the order lifted
when all recommended abatement measures are in place and they are to the satisfaction of
the Agency. The Agency also takes note of the recent Government pronouncement on riverbed
mining and environmental challenges, and remains committed to the enforcement of the
pronounced policies, and also appreciates the tone set by the Government towards the
judicious protection of the environment, especially on reducing rampant land degradation and
loss of valuable environmental goods and services due to unregulated mining activities.
Also included in the nationwide blitz is the education and awareness programme in selected
hotspot areas, to impress on environmental stewardship among communities for sustainable
management of the natural capital. The programme is targeting veld fires, waste management
and land degradation, to complement regular such programmes usually done by the Agency
throughout the year. Included in the programme is the distribution of firefighting equipment
and community training in fire prone areas.Since the inception of the programme at the
beginning of September 2020, Mashonaland Central province has been covered, and the
programme is currently covering Mashonaland West and Midlands.
The Agency remains committed to its mandate of environmental protection, prevention of
pollution and land degradation; and upholds that the citizens remain the custodians of the
environment hence take note of the concerns of the public in fulfilling its mandate.
Environmental protection remains a shared vision, after all the public is the primary beneficiary
of healthy environmental good and services, hence the environment is everyone’s
responsibility.
Amkela Sidange-Environmental Education and Publicity Manager +263772934384

Tendai Guvamombe