Lockdown, No Respite for Environment in Mutare

A recent interview with MAYA, Mutare

Zimbabwe like many countries has been under a Covid19 induced lockdown as the nations scramble for a solution which has so far proved elusive.

The last 45 days have sent Mutare into a deep slumber as people have been forced to stay home due to the Covid 19 lockdown. Economic activities have been at a stand still, making access to basic livelihoods a huge challenge due to increased poverty levels.

This state of affairs has proven to be a huge challenge to the most citizens as they grapple with the invisible enemy which has closed down the city, country and world at large. This is unprecedented in the history of mankind.

While Mutare went to sleep for the first time in its history, new challenges arose especially in the area of energy especially electricity and LP Gas whose prices shot up through the roof forcing people to seek for alternative cheaper sources of energy.

The insanely expensive electricity charges which are exacerbated by the usurious stepped up   policy by Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) which makes electricity increase to almost $5 per kW from 46c happened to be the bull in a China shop which forced consumers to find cheaper sources of energy.

Without money to purchase more electricity or gas, the natural route for most residents was to resort to firewood . since the lockdown with most men at home, they have found a new pastime, that is scouring the surrounding Forest areas such as fern valley, Arda, lower Vumba and the mountains surrounding the city  cutting down trees for firewood. They don’t only look for firewood in the forest but they engage in poaching as well snaring and killing wildlife to supplement food at home.

Mutare which used to boast as the “greenest city” in Zimbabwe has been losing the tag for some time now but the problem has escalated during the lockdown as armies of residents plundered the trees for firewood. Municipal rangers and other law enforcement agents appear to have lost the battle as they lack capacity to effectively deal with this problem.

As hunger stalks, many families are resorting to urban agriculture and have added to the problem by cutting down trees to clear land for agricultural purposes. Thus in a very short space of time Covid-19 has induced massive cutting down of trees both for domestic use as well as for agricultural purposes.

As they raze down trees not a single tree is planted thereby increasing the emmision of carbon emmisions into the atmosphere which has a bearing on climate change.

Manica Youth Assembly (MAYA)  therefore would like to encourage city fathers and land developers to plant trees in all new residential areas while replanting trees along the  Chimanimani road which has become as barren as a rock. MAYA reiterates the need to deploy more rangers to monitor the cutting down of trees which should be backed by a public education campaign in order to arrest the problem.

MAYA is ready to join hands with progressive and like minded stakeholders to play a positive role in nipping the problem in the bud or else the city and its people are condemned into a dungeon.


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