Building homes on wetlands hazardous, slows development

Nomthandazo Gabi
FLOODS have continued to ravage property of hundreds of families’ property in Zengeza 4 and Manyane, raising concerns about corrupt council officials parcelling out housing stands on wetlands, despite the Government’s stern stance on the preservation of wetlands.
Government spokesperson Nick Mangwana indicated that the crisis in Chitungwiza needs urgent intervention, before blaming residents for constructing houses on wetlands.
Moreover, residents highlighted that the drainage system in Chitungwiza was in a state of despair and that the government had failed to maintain and repair a functional drainage system, which could have helped to minimise chances of floods occurrence.
Local authorities have the responsibility of issuing out household stands; hence, they are urged to consider the lives and safety of citizens before selling illegal stands.
The current rains received across the country have exposed and caused problems in unplanned settlements in urban, peri-urban and growth points.
Furthermore, Young Volunteers for the Environment (YVE) executive director Loretta Marembo indicated that from the environmental standpoint, there has been a great loss of species and ecosystem within wetlands and most importantly the very fact they act as sponges to soak water and preserve it for a long time, which has led to water shortages in Harare.
President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa recently said the government is however deeply concerned with the illegal expansive construction in wetlands and river basins as well as the construction of houses without the provision requisite infrastructure such as road, water, sewer and electricity.
He added that relevant ministries are being constituted into working groups that will focus on social service delivery as well as arresting the negative impact of the chaotic, unplanned illegal settlements in growth points, towns and cities.
Wetlands used as cost-effective nature-based solutions provide environmental and socio-economic benefits to people locally and regionally. With significant loss of wetland areas due to expansion of forest, agriculture, housing, some countries have begun providing economic support for environmental objectives for wetland conservation and restoration.
The 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development of the United Nations is a 15-year global framework centred on 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 169 targets, and 232 indicators, designed to secure a world free of poverty and hunger, with full and productive employment, access to high-quality education and health coverage, gender equality, empowerment of all women and girls, and an end to environmental degradation.
Within this framework, SDGs are relevant for the sustainable use of wetlands or “wetlandscapes” (a network of hydrologically connected wetlands, which are often vital physical and social components of a country’s natural capital, as well as providers of ecosystem services to local and national communities.

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