Kernen Park: need to balance artificiality with nature’s beauty

ECC Champion

Though residents have applauded Masvingo City Council for moving to develop a recreational area on a piece of land close to Mucheke River, environmentalists say the park should co-exist with the river and not contribute to its further pollution.

Named after the German Municipality of Kernen with which City of Masvingo has a twinning agreement, Kernen Park is the most significant new investment in recreation in over two decades.

Work on the park seems to be progressing well, meaning many people will soon flock to it and possibly contribute to the pollution of the river.

Fauna and Flora Zimbabwe (FaFloZim) Director, Fidelicy Nyamukondiwa told EnviroPress that high levels of activity at the park will become a threat to the river if necessary measures are not implemented to prevent littering and other forms of pollution.

“The proximity of the park to the river is a serious cause for concern. There is a high risk of pollution of the river due to human activities in the park. We engaged the city council over that issue and they made an undertaking that they would ensure there are sufficient refuse bins and ablution facilities in the park.

 “Overall, we can conclude that the park is a progressive conservation effort; trees, lawn and flowers are being planted and these will reduce soil erosion and siltation of the river. The establishment of the park also means that specific piece of land is now safe from streambank cultivation,” said Nyamukondiwa.

In an interview, Masvingo Town Clerk Edward Mukaratirwa said the local authority will work to ensure that the environs of the park are clean in order to help protect the river.

“We value our biodiversity and we therefore have to do all that we can to conserve the environment. As a local authority, and we have put in place measures to ensure that the surroundings are clean. We will erect a fence to avoid unnecessary activities and crossings through the park.

“We will then have to set up enough bins in the park and council will additionally deploy personnel to monitor and enforce cleanliness. There will be sufficient policing to ensure that the environment, including the river, is clean,” said Eng Mukaratirwa.

Mucheke River has suffers from massive erosion of its banks and the resultant siltation due to the activities of residents including cultivation of crops.  

The river is also a victim of massive sewer pollution emanating from the city’s old and leaky sewerage.

City of Masvingo was in 2014 fined by the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) for dumping raw sewage into Mucheke, whose waters combine with those of Shakashe a short distance downstream, to feed into Lake Muturikwi, the city’s only source of water.

This report was made possible through support from WAN-IFRA Media Freedom’s Strengthening African Media Programme: Climate Change and Environmental Reporting. Views expressed here do not belong to WAN-IFRA.