Veld fires prove fatal

Veld fires prove fatal

22 August 2012

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Zimbabwe– Barnabas Mawire, Country Director at Environment Africa, said his organisation was concerned by the destruction of ecosystems.

“We are concerned about the veld fires. This year’s fires have already destroyed more hectares than last year. Not only are trees being destroyed, but valuable ecosystems as well.”

He added that the destruction of grazing land would have a negative affect on farming in Matebeleland where drought was already making life difficult.

“Fireguards are essential in order to protect property and the livelihood of the local people. It is therefore mandatory for all land owners to put up standard fireguards which are at least 9m wide,” Mawire said.

Mawire said his organisation, in conjunction with the Environment Management Agency, carried out pre-fire season campaigns.

“We are organising village-based fire-fighting committees and we train them on how to use the necessary equipment,” he said.

Mawire said the campaigns are being carried out in Binga, Nyaminyami/Kariba, Zambezi Valley, Lupane, Hwedza, Hurungwe, Mbire, Guruve, Chimanimani and Mutasa.

The veld fires proved fatal in Gweru where two children died after a fire spread from a nearby farm to the area where members of the Johane Masowe apostolic church were meeting.

Police confirmed the incident which took place at Key Land farm few kilometres from the city.

The deceased have been identified as Tatenda Ngoni and Tafadzwa Batau aged five and four respectively.

“The speed of the fire was so supersonic that even though we scurried for cover, some of us did not make it,” said a church elder who identified himself as Noah Siirai.

Timothy Nyoka, the Environmental Management Agency regional Information, Education and Publicity officer, said the incident was unfortunate.

“We go around teaching people about the need to put up fire guards and the importance of not starting fires during this period,” he said.

In some parts of the province, communities have put together fire committees to combat such disasters. In Somabhula, farmers led by Chairperson Elfas Maphosa have been teaching fire prevention methods.




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