Samantha Chigogo Herald Correspondent—
The Government wants tight water management to conserve water supplies. Statistics recently revealed that at least 12 000 boreholes countrywide have run dry due to low water table levels caused by the El Nino-induced drought. Addressing students at the Zimbabwe Defence College last week, Environment, Water and Climate Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri said tight water management strategies were the best approaches to water conservation.
“The few boreholes that are still yielding potable water need to be well-looked after by ensuring the water is not used for bulk water sales and brick moulding,” she said. “Our existing water infrastructure needs to be well secured. Gone are the days we allowed water leakages in our networks, our dams and conveyance systems must indeed be water tight so that we conserve the stored water.”
Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri urged farmers to implement environmentally-friendly farming technologies. “Our people are now resorting to unorthodox agricultural practices such as stream bank cultivation in search of moisture. This has in turn led to siltation of our rivers and further worsening the water situation,” she said.
“We need to encourage drip irrigation technology so that we target our limited water to plants, let us go back to conversation agricultural practices that limit evaporation.”
Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said the country was facing a new threat of increased environmental crimes.
“The unavailability of water has also perpetuated environmental crimes by our people who are in search of survival means as evidenced by the 67 percent increase in environmental offences committed in 2015 compared to the previous year,” she said.
“Some of the noted environmental impacts are land degradation due to illegal mining operations, illegal sand abstraction and wet land utilisation. Chiefs and landowners are settling people on wetlands which are a source of rivers and groundwater.”
Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said 150 000 hectares of land were destroyed by veld fires last year. “The country’s forests also come under serious threat as increased deforestation activities are underway owing to illegal firewood markets created in urban centres where power cuts are more prominent due to electricity shortages,” she said.
“Veld fires are on the increase since last year as they caused the loss of lives of 16 individuals while creating extensive damage to property. A total of 151 342 hectares was affected by veld fires in the year 2015.”
“Wildlife poaching is on the increase as the unavailability of water is posing an opportunity for poachers to use sophisticated methods of poaching such as cyanide which require very little water to be effective. A total of 8 incidences were reported in the year 2015 which resulted in the death of 79 elephants.”
She said through Zim-Asset, Government continues to maximise its efforts in implementing climate change mitigation and adaptation measures. “To date Government has constructed approximately 10 000 small to medium to large dams with purposes to harness blue water which is important for irrigation and domestic use,” said Minister Muchinguri.
“Under Zim-Asset the key strategic areas which will be addressed include the construction of urban water supply and sanitation projects. “Rural water supply and sanitation schemes as well as dams and conveyance systems.”