Environment & Climate Change

Farmers to stop uncontrolled fires

Environment alert

In Zimbabwe, uncontrolled fires are a challenge that results in substantial damage to the environment, life, property and the economy.

Every year from August to December there is extensive destruction and loss of property and human lives caused by veldt fires. The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) has warned of expected high fire danger indexes or conditions over many parts of the country. This poses considerable risk to life, property, livestock and crops and the natural environment.

The fact that the country received plenty of rainfall last season, grass, trees and small bushes thrived, thereby increasing the risk of veldt fires but most are started by humans for various reasons. Most reasons are reckless disposal of lit cigarette stubs, smoking for bees and harvesting, lighting fires at road servitudes while waiting for early morning buses, land clearing, hunting and deliberate lighting of fires.

Fires can be prevented by investing in well maintained firefighting equipment such as petrol and diesel powered water pumps, creating a veldt fire plan, covering for eventualities of both staying and defending properties or leaving it ahead of the veldt fire.

Being extra careful when using welding, cutting and grinding equipment, training staff in firefighting techniques and safety standards for burning rubbish and disposing of hot ash and learning to reorganize the weather conditions associated with high fire danger, temperature, wind speed, direction and humidity.

The 2016 fire season recorded a total of 1 652 fire incidences resulting in 1 197 335 hectares of land being destroyed by fire compared to 1881 incidences and 1 336 746 hectares burnt in the 2015 fire season.

In 2016 Midlands province held 340 Fire Awareness meetings which were attended by 21 000 people.

Fire related orders were issued to property owners to ensure that they put in place adequate measures to mitigate against the fire scourge.  In Midlands 281 orders were served to property owners to construct fireguards.

Also a total of ten tickets valued at $100 were issued by EMA, and Mashonaland West had the highest number of tickets (56) issued. Training was done for firefighting teams and Midlands Province trained 15 teams and 14 traditional chiefs.

EMA together with other strategic partners embarked on forest management projects that included agriculture as a way to stimulate environmental stewardship and prevent veldt fires. The bee keeping projects ensure that the communities benefit from natural resources management in their respective areas by engaging in low investment high return and low maintenance projects such as epiculture.

A total of 486 beehives have been distributed to communities. Communities are now value adding the honey by processing and packing before selling.

Midlands province has 25 bee keeping projects now underway. District area burnt are as follows, Gokwe North 3 370.88, Kwekwe 6 402, 27, Gweru 21 854.00 and Gokwe South 6.918.47 hectares

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