Wetlands in most parts of Matabeleland North Province are under threat and will not benefit communities unless new measures are taken to protect them.

The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) has thus come up with an initiative to further educate and raise awareness on the preservation of wetlands in the province.

The majority of wetlands are classified as moderate to severe in terms of degradation with trampling by livestock, deforestation and stream bank cultivation being the major causes of their destruction.

Binga is the worst affected district in the province.

According to EMA Matabeleland North Provincial Education and Publicity Officer, Mrs Mildred Matunga, the agency is working with stakeholders to rehabilitate a dam at Nabusenga ward in Binga.

“15 gardens have been removed from the catchment area and this has seen a remarkable increase in the inflow of water into the dam. We do have laws that prevent or monitor or guide the management and utilisation of wetlands. You find that wetlands are sensitive ecosystems, and as an agency we always promote the utilisation of wetlands after an acquisition of a licence from the agency through the use of the Statutory Instrument 7,” she said.

There are also arrangements to capacitate traditional leaders through education and awareness workshops so that they are able to enforce the preservation of wetlands in communities. 

Wetlands are important purifiers of water, and they absorb and release water during the wet and dry season respectively.

Failure to adhere to the statutory instruments that guide the management of wetlands can attract a fine ranging from $10 to $5000.