By Tendai Sahondo
The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) says pollution presents a major threat to the preservation and promotion of the country’s tourism legacy
Speaking at the sidelines of the ongoing Sanganai/Hlanganani Tourism Expo, EMA Communications officer, Joyce Shingai Chapungu said EMA is tackling the pollution scourge, thereby enhancing the country’s charm to continue attracting tourists from far and wide.
“As EMA, our mandate is to ensure the sustainable use of natural resources and prevent pollution. Prevention of pollution is critical to the tourism industry as no tourist wants to visit dirty or polluted environments. A dirty environment is also associated with diseases such as Cholera, Typhoid and Dysentery which in turn chase away tourists. Therefore, as EMA, we play a critical role in ensuring that the environment is well taken care of, thereby promoting tourism in the country,” she said.
She said EMA’s thrust for the current exhibition is premised on the reduction of plastic pollution which harmful to both the environment and the tourism industry.
“Plastics can block storm drains resulting in flash floods. Plastics can also block sewer pipes, resulting in sewer bursts. If ingested by livestock or wild life, the animals can die which is averse to progress as wildlife is a major tourist attraction in Zimbabwe. We remain committed to working with the public in the reduction of plastic pollution so that our tourism industry will thrive.
“We are therefore advocating for the use of alternatives, particularly in the packaging industry. Instead of buying plastic packaging, people could use shopping bags which are more durable and biodegradable,” she said.
According to a recent study, plastic pollution accounts for 18% of the country’s annual waste generation which the communications expert said is unacceptable.
“It is alarming that plastic waste contributes 18% of the waste that is generated in Zimbabwe, which is a significant amount as most plastic is not biodegradable. Plastic takes ages to degrade, thereby stressing the environment. Sometimes plastic is washed away into water bodies which can go on to pollute the seas that they spill into,” she said.
Chapungu said Zimbabwe is also taking into account global trends and measures aimed at eliminating single use plastics.
“The United Nations Environment Assembly held in March proffered solutions to tackling the use of plastics. Strategies were clearly laid out for member states to follow and these include awareness raising, research and development, creating synergies with industry in advocating for alternatives and formulation of policies and legislations regarding the phasing out of single use plastics.
“EMA is currently engaging manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers, recyclers and distributors of plastics so we can work together in coming up with solutions that are suitable for our nation towards tackling plastic use,” she said.
Programs that EMA has spearheaded include the ongoing monthly cleanup campaigns led by President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa.
“The clean-up campaign is meant to make sure that all our areas are clean, thereby cleaning the plastic waste that could be burdening the environment,” she added.