EMA urged to act as siltation reaches high levels
COMMUNITY members of Masoka village are sitting on a time bomb where a water crisis looms owing to massive river siltation.
This is despite a fairly impressive rainy season.
Masoka is situated in the Zambezi Valley, approximately 20 km south of the Dande Safari Area and 5 km east of the Chewore Safari Area (Hurungwe district) on the Angwa River.
The area has about 350 households, and 60 of these are female-headed households and all these people might go thirsty if the Enviromental Management Agency (EMA) does not act swiftly to avert this looming crisis.
Their crops are already wilting which poses another imminent hunger disaster.
Community leaders feel EMA should urgently approve river desiltation exercise which cabinet approved 2019.
Some EMA officials are being accused of stalling progress to approve the desiltation of one of the major rivers in the area called Angwa river.
This has caused water challenges to villagers and also exacerbated the human- wildlife conflict.
In a letter written to EMA by community leaders and copied to the Office of the President and Mbire Rural district council chief executive, it was noted that there is need for urgent attention to desilt Angwa river as recommended by Cabinet.
“Following an EIA survey with community and different departments in the district and Masoka Community in 2019 , the community and the entire district was expecting to see progress on the ground , later after the consultation process the government and minister of cabinet officially announced that Angwa river was one of the rivers among those where desiltation would take place.
“It is sad and unfortunately that there is no progress on the ground, “read part of the letter.
The current levels of siltation at the river means all the good rains received this season come to naught.
Community members lamented that EMA officials are deliberately frustrating government efforts to empower them.
” We are languishing in poverty yet our area is endowed with resources.
“Government made it clear that there is need to desilt Angwa river to make ease access of water and minerals but some people at EMA are not forthcoming for reasons best known to themselves, it’s not fair,” lamented a senior community member.
There has also been a major outcry of human- wild life conflicts attributed to water shortages and hunting operations within the community area by safari operators.
” Hunting must be confined to safari areas not in community areas to reduce conflicts may.”
“The availability of water will also likely reduce the problem hence there is urgent need for desiltation at Angwa River and we urge Ema to move fast,” said a Mashonaland Central based environmentalist who refused to be named.
This publication also established that there has been no tangible benefits to the Masoka community, while mainly white safari operators and political bigwigs are benefitting and not ploughing back into community.
“The desilting exercise will provide the necessary development and support the area and community and council needs to achieve some of its development targets.
” Desilting will allow for the harvesting of water in the rainy season, “further submitted the environmentalist.
Critics have blasted EMA’s alleged behaviour and said it was retrogressive to government efforts in empowering citizens.
“We have elections coming and these Ema officials are doing a disservice to President Mnangagwa ‘s pledge to empower people especially those in areas endowed with minerals and wildlife resources,” said Maxwell Bake a political analyst.
EMA spokesperson Amkela Sidanke told said her organization will investigate the matter and act accordingly.
“Thank you for reaching out.
” Please allow me to check with the local office, “she said.
The Mbire Rural District Council chief executive Cloudius Majaya confirmed the delay.
“All they (EMA) did is an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) which is mandatory for a project like that (desiltation),” he said.
He however said the RDC has resuscitated sugar cane plantation and Dande dam construction to assist community members through investors who came on board.
Implementation of the Communal Areas Management Programme For Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE) in Zimbabwe’s communal lands has resulted in the institution of a process of empowerment of local communities regarding the use and management of the natural resources at their disposal.
The Masoka community trace the trajectory of this process starting with the precolonial resource management.
Government is the owner of the land and all its resources, while the people of Masoka, as the users of these resources, are the
proprietors and custodians of the resources.
The natural resources of Masoka include the land, trees and grass, water (including rivers and pools) and wildlife.
These resources are owned by the Government, but bona fide residents of Masoka have exclusive rights to use these
resources hence cabinet approved desiltation and introduced the Campfire project.