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Councils need wetlands action plan – Chiri

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Councils need wetlands action plan – Chiri

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WETLANDS are still under threat, with 38 of the 74 local authorities already audited operating without local environmental action plans that guide the management and protection of the environment and wetlands, Auditor-General Mrs Mildred Chiri says.

She has also reported that only 11 of the 36 councils with action plans are implementing them.

This is in contravention of the Environment Management Act which requires councils to be far more active.

A report detailing the malpractices by councils was produced after Mrs Chiri audited local authorities in five provinces: Harare, Masvingo, Mashonaland West, Matabeleland North and the Midlands.

“Every local authority should prepare a local environmental action plan for the area under its jurisdiction in accordance with such directions as the Minister may give,” she said.

“The plans, which are supposed to be reviewed, evaluated and approved by the Environmental Management Agency, should include how the local authority would manage and protect the environment including wetlands.

“From the 74 local authorities assessed by the Environmental Management Agency in 2018, 36 had local environmental action plan documents. However, out of the 36 local authorities that developed the plans, only 11 were implementing them while the remaining 25 did not implement or adhere to the plans.”

Mrs Chiri noted that the National Environmental Council that was set up to provide advice on national goals and objectives and determine policies and priorities for the protection of the environment and produce the State of the Environment reports, had last met in 2013.

This made it difficult to track the extent of environmental damage over a period of time.

No action was taken by EMA to ensure that all local authorities produce and implement plans on environmental management and was likely to result in continued degradation of the environment, particularly wetlands.

Wetlands were also being polluted by untreated effluent from local authorities, individuals, mining operations and institutions.

“Out of 29 sewer systems I inspected, 23 were not functioning as intended,” said Mrs Chiri.

“I also noted that six individuals, 13 mining companies and 24 institutions were discharging untreated effluent into wetlands.

“Untreated effluent discharge by local authorities and companies into open areas was attributed to non-functioning of effluent treatment systems while pollution by individuals was attributed to illegal activities.” Herald

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