By Josephine Mugiyo
THE NJOVO wetlands in Masvingo’s Zezayi village are a shining example of how communities can benefit from the sustainable management of the environment. Masvingo was this Friday hosting the National Wetlands commemorations day and at Njovo Wetlands the place is being sustainably managed since their resuscitation in 2017 with over 500 families benefiting from projects being done at the wetlands.
There is an air of mystery that surrounds Njovo wetlands in Masvingo, a mystery so deep that a traditional ritual had to be performed before the news crew could access the heart of the wetland, the venue for the National Wetlands Day commemorations held this Friday.
Having dried up in the 1980s the area was now being used for agricultural purposes by the community.
However, after consultations with the community, the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) fenced the area in 2017 and in no time, it is back to its pristine state.
The resuscitation of the wetlands also marked the return of the traditional guardian of the wetland, a mermaid well as confirmed by the locals.
The deep-rooted belief in the sacredness of the place and massive awareness campaigns by EMA have been the saving grace for these wetlands.
“Dekete iri raiva rawoma, pakaiswa fence ne EMA njuzu inorichengetedza yakabva yaziva kuti kwanaka.takuwana zvakawanda muno,”(This wetland had dried up and when EMA fenced it, the mermaid which keeps it knew that its now safe and we are now getting a lot form the wetland), said mbuya Mary Mugabe.
Over 500 families are now benefitting from the wetlands thanks to the resuscitation programme.
“Tinezvizhinji zvatirikuwana mudekete redu iri” takurima mirivo, plus ma project enyuchi,” ( we are benefitting a lot frOm this wetland ranging from gardening and beekeeping) said Munyaradzi Mabika.
The Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Honourable Ngobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu says government cannot afford to take a back seat given the rapid degradation of wetlands across the country.
“When communities work like this, we can attain our vision to reach the upper-class middle economy by 2030. While we have potential to sustainably manage our wetlands, I have noted with great concern the continued wetlands degradation from water pollution through the discharge of raw and partially treated water,” said the minister.
Three percent of Zimbabwe’s land is made up of wetlands and only a fraction is being sustainably managed, hence growing calls for their preservation and resuscitation.
Meanwhile, the Njovo community has received fingerlings from the Zimbabwe National parks and Wildlife Authority (Zimparks).
By Josephine Mugiyo