‘Protect wetlands to avert water scarcity’
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