What exactly is it that Zimbabwe is contributing at the Earth Summit in Brazil when it is a serious offender on environmental issues? Let me name a few:
-An outdated water system, with rusted pipes which regularly spring leaks which are left unattended for days, and sometimes weeks or months, resulting in the loss of thousands of litres of precious treated drinking water.
-Drilling of numerous boreholes due to the shortage of municipal water which will lead to huge reductions in groundwater levels.
-Widespread pollution because of littering and burning of garbage, including plastics releasing toxic fumes into the atmosphere.
-Failure to educate the population on environmental matters resulting in the dumping of garbage in open spaces.
-Unreliability of the municipal garbage collection system resulting in massive litter dumps in residential areas and the clogging of roadside drains in cities.
-Widespread land clearing resulting in the chopping down of precious trees by newly resettled farmers on commercial farming land.
-The chopping down of trees for firewood as a consequence of regular power outages by ZESA. (Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority)
- The pollution of rivers with effluent because of the inadequate sewage systems in High Density suburbs.
These are only a few of the smaller activities which result in the degradation of the environment.
Some of the larger ones include:
-Development and building of residential areas and hotels on precious wetlands.
-Attempts to develop hotels and prospecting for minerals in precious national parks such as Mana Pools which is a World Heritage Site.
One wonders why such a huge delegation of 92 has travelled to the Rio Earth Summit which has cost Zimbabweans US$7 million. What will that delegation achieve besides increasing the country’s carbon footprint by a significant amount due to the fossil fuels burnt in the planes transporting them? Imagine how the money would have been better spent had it been invested in improving our environment by cleaning up our filthy cities. Also, how much more so would our environment be improved had the money been put into policing industries that are dumping toxic waste into lakes and rivers? And how much more so would the state of our environment have been improved had that same amount of money been invested into developing environment friendly systems of transportation?
Why has this delegation been allowed to travel? Is it because they are passionate about the environment, or is it just so they can sample the wonderful shops in Rio de Janeiro!