EMA intensifies campaigns in a bid to meet NDS-1 target

By Archford Chirimudombo


MARONDERA- After missing out on its National Development Strategy 1 (NDS-1)
target set to reduce area burnt by 10 percent from 104 384ha in 2021 to 93 108ha by
30 November last year, the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) in
Mashonaland East is this fire season determined to meet its target.
The veld fire season in Zimbabwe is defined by law. Statutory Instrument 7 of 2007
on Environmental Impact Assessment and Ecosystems Protection Regulations
clearly defines the 31st of July to the 31 of October each year as the period where
people are not supposed to use fire outside the residential and commercial
Last year saw a 60 percent increase in veld fire reports throughout the country, as
was revealed by the Minister of Environment, Climate Change, Tourism Hospitality
Industry Dr Mangaliso Ndhlovu at the launch of the National Fire Awareness Season,
which began on July 1 and will end on November 30.
Despite interventions on raising fire awareness campaigns as well as sending
reminders to farmers and fire management orders to property owners to put fire
preventative measures in place, Mashonaland East missed its target last year as 112
036.89ha were burnt in the province.
The worst affected districts were Chikomba (45 080ha), Seke (19 173ha), Hwedza
(16 237ha), Marondera (11 568ha) and Goromonzi (7 398ha). Uzumba-Maramba-
Pfungwe (550ha) district had the least area burnt while Mutoko, Murehwa and Mudzi
had 4 246ha, 6 690ha and 1 092ha destroyed in that order.
It goes without highlighting that due to the veld fires, eucalyptus plantations and 27
dwelling units and property were burnt in Marondera and Murehwa districts. Daina
Manyere (94) of Chikwerekwere Village in Mrehwa was burnt to death while a then
19-month-old baby had her feet burnt after stepping on burning cow in Goromonzi.
In an interview with Chaminuka, EMA education and publicity officer for
Mashonaland East, Astas Mabwe, said they continue to raise awareness among
communities on the need to prevent veld fires so that target can be met.
He said: “We might have missed our target during the fire season last year but we
have intensified our anti-fire campaigns such as educating communities on pre-fire

suppression measures such as fire-guard construction, biomass reduction and early
controlled burning.
“Our awareness programmes include the holding of roadshows, talk shows at
schools, meetings with the relevant stakeholders and serving fire orders to farmers in
districts. In our messages, we always allude to them the fact that the veld fires
menace continues to be a threat to the country’s food security, human lives,
economic infrastructure and livelihoods.”
According to Mabwe, veld fire incidences have mainly been recorded in Chikomba,
Seke, Hwedza and Marondera districts.
“This fire season, there are cases of veld fires that have been recorded in the usual
suspect districts but since we are alive to the fact that a stakeholder approach is
necessary on veld fire issues, we continue to urge rural and resettlement
communities to clear land around their homesteads.
“There is also need for more resources to be channeled towards fire investigations
and bringing culprits to book so that they can be held accountable for their actions
that may have caused veld fires,” he said.
Countrywide, a total of 7 511 Veld fires incidences which burnt 1 753 055.9 hectares
were recorded last year. The total area burnt increased by 59.73 % compared to
2021 baseline of 34.4% and the majority of the veld fires occurred in the resettlement
areas and protected areas such as Safari and National Parks.
The veld fires destroyed property valued at approximately US$1 518 453.00 in the
Tourism, Agriculture and Communication Sectors. The veld fires further resulted in
the loss of 18 lives, with 10 of these lost in one fire incident in Umzingwane district of
Matebeleland South province.
According to EMA director-general Aaron Chigona, Mashonaland West and
Matabeleland North provinces experienced the highest total burnt areas while
Manicaland and Masvingo Provinces recorded the least areas burnt.

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