‘Pro­tect wet­lands to avert wa­ter scarcity’

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Crys­ta­bel Chikayi Chron­i­cle Re­porter

THE En­vi­ron­men­tal Man­age­ment Agency (EMA) has urged peo­ple to pro­tect wet­lands as a way of avert­ing wa­ter scarcity and drought.

In an in­ter­view, EMA’s Ed­u­ca­tion and Pub­lic­ity Man­ager Mr Steady Kan­gata said wa­ter scarcity be­ing ex­pe­ri­enced in Zim­babwe can be at­trib­uted to some ex­tent to the con­ver­sion of wet­lands to other uses such as in­fras­truc­tural de­vel­op­ment.

He said this has turned wet­lands, which are vi­tal sources of wa­ter, into con­crete jun­gles.

Many parts of the coun­try are faced with wa­ter shortages, with Bu­l­awayo re­cently in­tro­duc­ing wa­ter shed­ding. The drought has also forced the coun­try to im­port grain. “Most bore­holes have run dry and re­ports are in­di­cat­ing that in some ar­eas one has to drill as deep as 100 me­tres to get to the wa­ter. This shows the level of wa­ter scarcity that the na­tion is fac­ing and this cri­sis will re­main un­til the coun­try re­ceives sub­stan­tial rains. EMA is there­fore urg­ing com­mu­ni­ties to sus­tain­ably man­age wet­lands to avert wa­ter scarci­ties,” said Mr Kan­gata.

He said ex­treme cli­mate con­di­tions that in­clude drought are pro­jected to in­crease in fre­quency and in­ten­sity, hence it was crit­i­cal to main­tain the eco­log­i­cal char­ac­ter of wet­lands as they store wa­ter and con­stantly recharge rivers and streams.

Ecol­o­gists say wet­lands are the most bi­o­log­i­cally di­verse ecosys­tems on earth and act as gi­ant sponges, soak­ing up rain­fall and slowly re­leas­ing it over time.

They say they also serve as nat­u­ral sewage treat­ment works, ab­sorb­ing chem­i­cals, fil­ter­ing pol­lu­tants and sed­i­ments, break­ing down sus­pended solids and neu­tral­is­ing harm­ful bac­te­ria.

It is es­ti­mated that nearly three quar­ters of the world’s in­land wet­lands have been lost over the last cen­tury. — @cchikayi

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