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Provincial Newspapers Telegraph

Awareness leads to drop in veld fires


THE province this month experienced a decrease in the percentage of uncontrolled
fires for this fire restriction season.

Veld fires have always been rampant in Mashonaland West Province recording the
highest figures of fires, however, this month, the province recorded a decrease of
64.2 percent in veld fires with no fatalities reported.

The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) reports that for the first time
Mashonaland West this month came second, from always being known to record
higher figures all along.

For November 2022, the total hectarage of land affected was 577 946.98 while for
November 2023 the numbers dropped to 206 927.50.

The fires have been prevalent in the resettlement areas of A1 and A2 farmers. In
trying to curb the rampant veld fires, EMA says its campaigns are paying dividends
as people are slowly refraining from starting veld fires.

EMA Provincial head, Rambwayi Mapako, said awareness campaigns have helped a
lot in reducing veld fires.

“A Series of environmental education awareness campaigns has really helped us
because people listened and acted on it. We have also engaged traditional leaders
and are working with them to get through to the people in their villages and also the
media,” explained Mapako.

Sometime this year, the first fire court built in Hurungwe under Chief Chundu was
established as a way of curbing the rampant veld fires.

In an interview with Chief Chundu, born Abel Mbasera of Ward 8, Hurungwe district
confirmed recently that the numbers in his area had declined and he attributes this
drop in veld fires to the court.

"As for this year, the percentage of veld fires have really gone down. People now
know how important it is not to start fires anywhere and everywhere. We have
reached a point where when one needs to start a fire, he/she comes first and seeks
permission and then they go start a fire, which as a group we will monitor and guard
so that it does not spread. People now fear being charged and fined.

“Also the opening of the fire court made people realise that we mean business and
that it is a serious offence to start fires since they destroy a lot of
“Very few cases of people chopping down trees are being reported of which some
are minor. So, this shows that people are listening and putting to use the information
they are being taught,” said Chief Chundu.

A few people in Zvimba lost their belongings and property this year due to the veld
fires as compared to previous years when people lost lives.

EMA managed to get to schools, where they taught students on the disadvantages
of veld fires.

The fire restriction period runs from July 31 to November 30. The law prohibits
starting of open fires during the fire restriction period.

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