Zimbawe — Twelve people died last year due to veld fires while 1 653 822 hectares of land were destroyed, the Environment Management Agency (EMA) said yesterday.In a statement, EMA education and publicity manager Mr Steady Kangata said last year there was an increase in the number of deaths compared to 2013 when only four deaths were recorded.
“Property worth $240 275 was also destroyed by veld fires last year. The number of fire incidents also increased to 2 575 compared to 1 981 recorded in 2013.”
Although there was a decrease in the number of veld fire incidents in 2013 as compared to 2012, statistics show that the incidents increased again last year.
In 2009, 10 people died due to veld fires while 25 died the following year. Five people died in 2011 while 16 died in 2012 and four in 2013.
“Communities should start preparing to create fire guards to reduce veld fires incidents. The fire guards should be nine meters apart and internal fire guards should be 4,5 meters apart. Veld fires have become the one of the country’s biggest environmental challenges.”
However, Mr Kangata said the Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate through EMA has put in place strategies to reduce the hectarage destroyed by veld fires by 10 percent.
“This reduction is necessary to keep the land productive in order to support the agriculture sector,” said Mr Kangata.
“Agriculture is the backbone of our economy, underpinning economic growth, food security and poverty eradication. EMA falls under the Food Security and Nutrition Cluster in terms of the Zim-Asset because a healthy environment promotes agricultural production.”