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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Mining activities along rivers red-flagged

Story by Kenias Chivuzhe

COMMUNITIES in Manicaland have red-flagged mining activities along rivers due to the 4 levels of pollution heavily affecting farmers and communities downstream.

Water pollution has reached alarming levels along Mutare River due to mining activities along the water body, with the situation being exacerbated by cholera cases due to poor hygiene and sanitation.

“The mining activities along the river have contaminated our water and we cannot drink or use it for washing,” said a resident.

Another said, “The acute water challenges has resulted in cholera cases surging in our area. The dirty water, as a result of mining activities along the river, has greatly affected livelihoods. We appeal for more boreholes to ensure we have enough clean water,” said another.

According to the Ministry of Health and Child Care, water pollution along Mutare River is among the causes of surging cholera cases affecting communities in Mutasa.

“While we have recorded a decline of cholera cases, we have one outstanding area which is Premier in Mutasa. The cases affecting the province are being traced from the mining area,” noted Manicaland Provincial Medical Director, Dr Munyaradzi Mukuzuka.

The heavily polluted water has also negatively affected irrigation farming activities in the area.

“The levels of mud in the water is a major challenge. The difference in yield between watering wheat crop with water from Mutare River and water from a borehole is at least 1 tonne per hectare with the quality of the wheat being highly compromised,” said a farmer, Mr Allan Franklin.

The Environmental Management Agency had noted the need for artisanal miners to follow stipulated guidelines in their operations.

“Mining contributes significantly to the economic growth of the country. However, the challenge we are facing is that some are doing it in an unsustainable way. We are having a challenge of water pollution that is affecting other users of the environment. We are urging those in the mining sector to maintain a closed system to avoid polluting water bodies,” Manicaland Environmental Management Agency manager, Dr Kingston Chitotombe said.

With mining and agriculture being key to economic growth, experts contend there is need to ensure co-existence and sustainable operations to ensure the two sectors achieve their maximum potential.

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