Climate ChangeEnvironmentOpinion

“Water and Wetlands Inseparable Lives”  enhancing sustainable cities

By Colin Nyangani

Wetlands play a key role to achieve sustainability in cities, and it is crucial to identify and integrate the wider benefits they provide.

Wetlands are vital parts of the hydrological cycle and support exceptionally large biological diversity which make them the most productive ecosystems on the earth.
Wetlands provided a wide range of ecosystem services and thereby facilitate livelihoods of many marginalised communities living near wetlands.
It is saddening that development will always continue on Wetlands due to the fact that state bodies that ought to be protecting wetlands prioritize development ahead of their constitutional obligation with regard to the environment and stakeholders constitutional rights.

These bodies are often conflicted. This is in the case of the City of Harare and Municipality of Chitungwiza for example; the Council’s desire for short term advantage of increased revenue from rates levied on the property developed undermines the long term necessity of preserving the city’s and towns water supply.

The downturn of these priorities is facilitated by the fact that the wetlands areas have not been identified and listed as such.

Treat wetlands not merely as areas that are important for nature conservation per se, but as key elements within urban water management infrastructure and essential components in providing water resources
Include the value of wetlands – the costs of wetland loss and degradation and the value wetlands can add should be taken into account when considering urban and infrastructure development.

My observation, I am deeply worried if not disturbed that the past commissions of inquiries in regards to the issues of wetlands have recommended that there be an Environmental Management Plan and establishment of the Environmental tribunal to investigate violation of Environmental Laws. Wetlands fall under the Water Act would render private ownership of Wetlands unlawful.

The proposed Environmental Tribunal must take over the functions of the EMA Board in this regard and be the body which appeals from decisions of the Director General of Environmental Management Agency (EMA).

The Environmental Management Act sets out principles relating to environment management which include: inter relatedness and linkage of elements of Environmental; placing people and their needs at the forefront; participation of all interested and affected parties; socially, environmentally and economically sustainable development; prevention of negative impact on environment and people’s environmental rights as we as specific attention in management and planning procedures of sensitive, vulnerable and stressed ecosystems.

Prepared by; Colin Nyangani

Colin Nyangani writes in his personal and official capacity as a Community Development Consultant

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