Unpacking Chiredzi Town Council’s environmental action plan

Macdonald Mudzaki

The Chiredzi Town Council launched its environmental action plan document last week in the wake of a plethora of environmental issues among them wetlands destruction, deforestation and sand poaching, illegal waste dumping and poor sewer reticulation.

The sugarcane town is also grappling with greenhouse gas emissions from surrounding farms such as Hippo Valley and Mkwasine estates through the burning of cane.

Speaking at the launch of the plan, Chiredzi district Environmental Management Agency (EMA) officer Abel Peter Mugodhi said while the document was a policy framework it was high time the document was used to safe guard the environment.

“We are facing an obvious oblivion if we continue at this rate. Most of our problems are man-made and we need to police each other to protect our environment.

“This document as a policy framework ensures such, it must unify the common interests of our communities in the management of the environment in a sustainable manner,” said Mugodhi.

He said local authorities are mandated to come up with environmental action plans but very few take a pragmatic step towards executing the contents of their documents.

“Those are the issues this document should address not just for it to become another blueprint for the office shelves. It should be something that has real purpose.

“In the name of urbanization, sand poaching has become the order of the day. Looking at the gullies and trail of destruction left behind, one comes close to tears. This has to be arrested,” said Mugodhi.

The Forestry Commission also lamented how the urbanites were destroying trees through deforestation as they searched for firewood.

“What most people don’t realize is that trees are there for our own benefit, they clean our air, they beautify our environment they give us shade.

“We need to start developing a habit of planting trees, imagine if every one of us planted a tree at least once. We will restore our forests in no time,” said the Forestry Commission. 

Chiredzi Town Council chairperson Gibson Hwende said they would walk the talk and protect the environment saying no vice would go unpunished.

“Its collective efforts that are going to achieve the goal of environmental sustainability as we need to safe keep our environment,” said Hwende.

The local authority’s environmental health officer Edson Nyadenga said unlike the previous document which just warmed up the shelves, the current plan was a call to action.

“There is need for a multi-faceted approach to the restoration of the biodiversity. We need to work as a team and will thrive to make this document work.

“We want to walk the talk this time and we vow we will protect our environment which we hold in trust for future generations,” said Nyadenga.

The local authority recently allocated about 800 both medium and high density residential stands to residents who were affected by floods in 2019.

The affected residents were previously allocated stands on wetlands.

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