Harare is at risk of running out of drinking water in the next 10 years due to high levels of pollution and depletion of water levels in Lake Chivero owing to rampant streambank cultivation and encroachment of the city, it has been learnt.
This was said revealed yesterday by Environment, Water and Climate Deputy Minister Engineer Simon Musanhu at a stakeholders’ meeting convened at Kuimba Shiri Bird Park at Lake Chivero. Lake Chivero is the main source of drinking water for Harare, Norton, Chitungwiza and Ruwa.
The meeting, held to come up with ideas on how to combat environmental degradation at the lake, was also attended by Tourism and Hospitality Industry Deputy Minister Retired Brigadier-General Walter Kanhanga and fisheries owners. “The water levels are attributed to siltation caused by streambank cultivation and there is great need to combat them as we risk running out of drinking water in the next 10 years. We urge people to devise ideas which can recharge the fish population and also combat farm brick moulding near the lake. “It has to be acknowledged that the lake is the nearest tourism feature to Harare. We need to engage stakeholders such as the police such that the environment can be preserved,” he said
Deputy Minister Musanhu proposed the establishment of a committee, adding the matter be raised in Cabinet.
Deputy Minister Kanhanga said the solution to the violent poachers was the creation of a reaction force which could support the local people on providing intelligence and how to overcome the problems. Lake Chivero Users’ Association chairman Mr Shiraaz Kassam weighed in saying:
“The lake used to be 32 metres deep but it is now 18 metres deep and we might experience flash flooding and we need to make the lake sustainable for future generations. We are likely to lose the environment in the next 10 years since fish stocks are depleting and are not what they used to be. “There is rampant deforestation, illegal settlements, brickfields, poaching and increase in crime in the area which is also affecting tourism,” said Mr Shiraaz.
Kuimba Shiri proprietor Mr Gary Stafford said Lake Chivero was the diamond opportunity for tourism in Zimbabwe and the opportunity was diminishing. “We last held a fishing competition in 2009 and there is now no fish worth catching which is attributed to fish poaching. “The whole lake is surrounded by nets cast by fishmongers who stretch as far as the Parks and Wildlife Management offices.
“There is great need to clear the nets such that we keep everyone employed. There is rapid urban area encroachment into the area which falls under the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority,” he said. Mr Stafford said levels of pollution in the water body which supplied Harare’s water needs had been worsened by pit latrines in the nearby illegal settlements and disposal of raw sewage by the City of Harare. He also expressed concern at the increase in fishmongers who catch fish in raw sewage discharged by the city which they sold to unsuspecting customers in Harare.
Parks and Wildlife Authority director of conservation Mr Geoffreys Matipano conceded that some of their officials were involved in corrupt practices. “Last month 99 poachers were arrested while 230 illegal canoes were confiscated,” he said