Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) calls on government to take concrete action to preserve wetlands that play an important role in ensuring that all people living in the country have access to water.
The United Nations World Water Day is commemorated every year on 22 March, which is a day that has been set aside to recognise the importance of water to our very subsistence and a day to reflect on how we are managing our water resources.
Although the nation joined the world in commemorating World Water Day under the theme “Nature for Water”, it is worrying that people around the world and particularly in Zimbabwe continue to struggle to enjoy the constitutionally guaranteed right to safe, clean and potable water.
ZLHR expresses grave concern at the continued destruction and disturbance of wetlands around the country. This destruction and degradation of wetlands has far reaching implications on the sustained availability of ground water, which is also heavily relied upon by many households that are not able to access municipal water. Further, wetlands also play an important role of purifying water that passes through them, flowing towards rivers, streams and other water bodies. Wetlands are also important as they minimise the possibility of flooding of roads or fields as they trap water.
Wetlands need to be maintained for the ecosystem to be preserved. It is imperative that local authorities, and relevant government actors, and people living in Zimbabwe take relevant measures to ensure that wetlands areas are protected from developments that have recently become commonplace.
ZLHR reminds the government that as a member of the Ramsar Convention, which Zimbabwe joined on 3 May 2013, the time is now to act and not pay lip service to the commitments voluntarily made to conserve wetlands in the country.
ZLHR is particularly appalled that while the country has seven (7) ‘Wetlands of International Importance’ some have been under attack in recent months. This is despite the commitment to ‘wisely use wetlands’ as provided in Article 2 of the Ramsar Convention.
On World Water Day, ZLHR therefore calls for immediate action by the government to ‘wisely use wetlands’ by:
- Ensuring that the Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate in collaboration with other state actors and stakeholders prevent any further construction on wetlands area;
- Taking concrete corrective action to address the encroachment of wetlands that has already occurred around the country;