Green Initiatives in Zimbabwe

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In this edition we showcase ‘Rain Harvesting’ in Chiredzi aimed at scaling up adoption and improving rural livelihoods. Rain Harvesting is simply the collection of rain water for recycling, once collected the water can be used for agriculture, in times of drought and water shortages etc. Rain water is the biggest cause of soil erosion, as water runs off it cuts though the soil creating gullies that get deeper each year. These gullies are hazardous to the people and their livestock. This process is sped up by deforestation, as there are fewer trees to hold the soil in place. By collecting rain water there is less runoff and it can be used to the maximum effect.
More focus needs to be made on ‘Clean Energy’ in Zimbabwe as we are still heavily dependent on non-renewables (coal, petroleum). Nevison Mpofu explains in his article how we can slowly wean ourselves off high carbon producing elements like diesel and incorporate them with renewables like solar. Increased Carbon Dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere from human activities is causing global warming, hence the need for more clean energy technologies and systems. ‘Sustainable Cities’ is goal number 11 on the UN SDGs list. These goals need to be incorporated into national policy creating a rapid change of mind-set, including the designing of cities and their infrastructure. A Sustainable City is designed in such a way as to minimize environmental degradation, with facilities (transport, waste management, etc.) designed to limit their impact on the natural environment, while providing the infrastructure needed for its inhabitants. This is not yet evident in Zimbabwe! In an article by Steven Mashoko Grey he suggests the need for a new ‘Urban Planning Agenda’ catered for by a Sustainable Cities Program. Zimbabwean cities have a huge ‘Ecological Footprint’ which is also being fuelled by corruption and poor governance.
Sustainable Cities ties in with the loss of our valuable wetlands, especially in Harare where they are being destroyed and build upon. An example is the Long Chen Plaza Mall which was built on a wetland, and some stands in Chitungwiza. In this issue we reiterated the need for articles that discussed the importance of wetlands. Freeman Asima and Leslee Maasdorp contributed articles on the ‘World Wetland Day’ held in Harare in February. This encourages further education on wetlands, especially amongst children who are the future of our country. In the past wetlands (known as doro in Shona) were sacred and tradition ceremonies were performed on them to encourage the start of the rainy season. It is the modern day that has wetlands under threat from human expansion and urban development.
It’s important to stress the education of youths and their involvement in Sustainable Development initiatives. Youths have imaginative minds that sometime yields the best ideas. UNICEF Zimbabwe is currently running a ‘Green Innovation Hub’ (GiHuB), which has produced some brilliant but simply ideas from Zimbabwe’s youths. You can read more about this initiative on; http://www.sustainzim.org/winners-201516-green-innovations-hub/. In this issue Darlington Tshuma talks about the importance of ‘Accelerating Youth Participation and Involvement in National and International Development Processes through Youth Forums’. Youths in Zimbabwe make up more than 60% of the population, so it is important that they are included and contribute to the decision making processes that affects
their future.
In our past, the people of Zimbabwe ate a wider variety of foods which were healthier and more organic. Modernisation and rural to urban migration has led to the loss of indigenous knowledge of traditional foods. With obesity, heart disease, blood pressure and diabetes on the rise there needs to be a shift from conventional to more organic foods. In 2015 there was a craze for the Quail bird which was believed to have healing properties. Also, the consumption of traditional foods like millet and sorghum is slowly increasing showcasing the begging of a change in mentality to healthier options. Bio-Innovation Zimbabwe (BIZ) is an organisation that researches, develops and promotes underutilised indigenous foods and they submitted an article that promotes such foods. Increased knowledge and intake of indigenous foods improves rural livelihoods.
The cartoon in this edition of SustainZim talks about how communities in Zimbabwe are not benefiting from their local natural resources. There is a lack of ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ (CSR) leading to severe environmental degradation in a lot of areas around Zimbabwe. Our country is blessed with a lot of natural resources and our communities should benefit from their extraction. We do not want to end up with a situation in the future whereby our country remains poor and with no resources left. This is a callout for our government to implement CSR into policy, therefore benefiting the communities and making mining companies and businesses accountable. Zimbabwe has the potential to become one of the leading countries in Africa, I hold my hopes high.

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