Stop Veld Fires Please

By Archford Chirimudombo

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MARONDERA- In its efforts to ensure that there is a reduction of veld fire incidences in
Mashonaland East, the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) has intensified its
awareness campaigns in communities. ast year, the province missed out on its set National
Development Strategy 1 (NDS-1) target that was meant to reduce the area burnt by 10
percent from 104 384ha in 2021 to 93 108ha by 30 November of the same year.
This year, the environmental watchdog is raising awareness with the public on the dangers
of veld fires and how best they can prevent or contain them for the province to record low
figures of such cases.
In Zimbabwe, the veld fire season is defined by law under Statutory Instrument 7 of 2007 on
Environmental Impact Assessment and Ecosystems Protection Regulations which defines
July 31 to November 30 each year as the period where people are not supposed to use fire
outside be it at commercial or residential premises.
Astas Mabwe who is the EMA education and publicity officer for Mashonaland East, said
their aim is to meet targets of reducing veld fire in districts and the province as a whole.
“During the fire season last year, it is unfortunate that we missed our set targets to reduce
veld fire incidences in the province but as always, we have intensified our anti-fire
campaigns through making sure that communities are educated on pre-fire suppression
measures such as fire-guard construction, biomass reduction and early controlled burning.
“As part of our awareness programmes, we are holding roadshows, talk shows at schools as
well as meetings with relevant stakeholders. We are also serving fire orders to farmers in
districts. In our messages, we inform them that veld fires are a menace that threaten our
nation in terms of food security, human lives, economic infrastructure and livelihoods in
general.”
Chikomba, Seke, Hwedza and Marondera are districts where high fire incidences have been
usually recorded in Mashonaland East.
“There are districts where we put much of our focus as high fire incidences are recorded
there and such districts are Hwedza, Seke, Chikomba and Marondera. Engaging our
stakeholders in the campaigns that we are holding is key. We continue to urge rural and
resettlement communities to clear land around their homesteads.
“More funds and other resources are also supposed 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 or have the potential to cause veld fires,” Mabwe said.

In 2022 there was 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 Ndlovu when he launched the National Fire Awareness Season, which began on
July 1 and will end on November 30.
Despite the interventions that were made in terms of 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, in the same year
as112 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.
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.
A total of 7 511 Veld fires incidences countrywide led to the burning of 1 753 055.9 hectares
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.
Property valued at approximately US$1 518 453.00 in the Tourism, Agriculture and
Communication Sectors was destroyed by the uncontrolled fires that further resulted in the
unfortunate 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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