Zimbabwe’s economy is a cesspool of disaster and the environment has not been spared either.
Deforestation, water pollution and land degradation have become the order of the day in Chitungwiza and Harare as people try to eke a living off the environment.
Bad Economy Creating Chain Reaction
Lack of opportunities, a growing population in the urban areas through rural to urban migration have been one of the major blow for mother nature’s survival as more unused land is being taken over and occupied by illegal settlers.
Erratic power supplies and sometimes exorbitant bills have left people with no choice but to chop-down tree for firewood – a quite profitable business in and around the cosmopolitan.
“If people cannot afford to buy gas for home use and electricity, whose prices have already gone up, they go for the cheaper option which is wood,” says newly elected Harare Mayor Jacob Mafume.
Lack of environmental education has also led to more trees being cut-down.
A group of women who sell firewood for a living said they had no choice – it was their only source of income.
Eking a living taking precedence
“Most business ideas are taken and are overcrowded so the market becomes less profitable so we have to do this.
“It is not easy because we wake up early in the morning and walk long distances.
“It is the only way we can make a living, for our children need to eat,” said one Mrs Chinake, a firewood seller.
With urban rentals being demanded in US dollars, many have opted to build their own places using the most affordable material and that includes pit sand.
A lot of land has been left with trenches and deep holes that are bad for the environment and a danger to human life.
It has been known to deposit waste in water sources yet they are incapable of cleaning it because of lack of funding – exposing aquatic life to toxins.
“There has been some malfunction in our treatment plants and they are overwhelmed by the capacity and as a council we have certain industrial companies that have not been complying with regulations around toxic waste management.
“We need to do better, it is something that I will be looking at as council,” says Cllr Mafume.
Mining cities such as Kwekwe and Gweru have faced similar problems from illegal miners who leave deposits of chemicals in the soil making land barren amongst other things.
“It is impossible for the environment to recover if the economy remains as it is.
“Humans worry more about survival rather than also taking care of the environment,” Mafume added.
With the economy not looking good and way off the path of recovery the situation is abject for the environment.
Many will continue plundering it to make a living but the future becomes bleaker with each passing year.