ZIMBABWE: One million hectares of land are destroyed by fire every year, a situation Government blames on negative attitude and lack of behaviour change by some people. Delivering a ministerial statement in Parliament last week, Environment, Water and Climate Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri said there was need to intensify awareness campaigns to protect the environment.
Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said veld fires had become rampant of late.’
“First and foremost is the issue of veld fires that are a major environmental challenge,” she said. “These veld fires destroy the environment, life and property and over the years, an average of one million hectares are destroyed annually. In 2016 alone, 1 197 335 hectares of land were burnt, while 102 people lost their lives due to veld fires from 2010 to date.
“The major cause of these veld fires is the negative attitude and lack of behaviour change of our people,” said Minister Muchinguri- Kashiri.
“Fires lit for land clearance are left unattended and they become wild. Fires have gone on to destroy our environment, disrupting normal ecosystem functions.” Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri bemoaned lack of fire-fighting resources in the country.
“It is also sad to note that as a country, we lack the adequate fire fighting resources such as aerial fire fighters in the form of helicopters, as well as the simple hand held tools such as fire beaters,” she said. Veld fires are common in resettlement and communal areas.
“Over the years, our fire prediction tools have indicated high rates of veld fires in resettlement and communal lands, bringing us to the issue of linkages of land tenure and land use to fire,” said Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri.
“I am kindly requesting Parliament to engage the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing and the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement in addressing the issue of land titles.” Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said her Ministry had since launched a programme to control veld fires.
“In addressing the challenge of veld fires as a ministry, we launched the Command Veld Fire Management Programme as a strategy to prevent veld fires,. It is envisaged that the engagement of Parliament and traditional leaders will see a reduction in the occurrence of veld fires, as together we can increase awareness on the causes and dangers of fires and how communities can work together to prevent them.” she said