Zimbabwe Faces Degrading Land, UN Officials Urge Action

 Quizzes and discussions were held, and the school children demonstrated their knowledge and enthusiasm for changing the status quo.

 John Cassim

Ahead of World Environment Day on June 5th, with a theme focused on Land Restoration, Desertification, and Drought Resilience, environmental officials in Zimbabwe highlighted the challenges the nation faces and called for action.

“The 2024 World Environment Day theme truly reflects our situation,” said Amkela Sidange, spokesperson for the Environmental Management Agency (EMA). “With 36.5% of our land degraded, we need to take stock and find ways to manage our land sustainably.”

Sidange pointed out that Zimbabwe is an agrarian society heavily reliant on healthy land for food security. She added that the nation is a signatory to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, which compels countries to address land degradation.

NatFortENERGY one of the sustainable energy companies that also partnered the hosting of the event. The entity is into solar energy solutions

Children’s Climate Concerns

Sidange’s remarks came just after the World Environment Day commemorations for children held in the capital Harare on the eve of the global commemorations. Scores of school children from various institutions showcased environmental projects they are undertaking.

Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, such as flooding, drought, heatwaves, cyclones, and air, land, and water pollution.

Currently, Southern Africa, including Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, is experiencing the effects of El Niño, which has intensified aridity and significantly impacted food production across many areas within the region.

Children as Agents of Change

UNICEF Deputy Representative Zainab Adam explained that children are most vulnerable to droughts, floods, climate change, and environmental degradation despite being the least responsible.

As such, UNICEF launched the Clean Green Zimbabwe initiative to help young people participate in the fight against environmental issues.

School children from Lusitania Primary School showcasing their environmental awareness projects in Harare.

“UNICEF has launched Clean Green Zimbabwe, an initiative to strengthen climate resilience of children and their communities,” Adam said. “This is done by providing climate-resilient social services in water sanitation and hygiene, health, education, child protection, and social protection. It also empowers children and young people to be environmental stewards and agents of change in schools, communities, and urban areas.”

Some of the school children who attended the World Environment Day for children commemorations in Harare.

Collaboration is Key

The children’s event was spearheaded by UN agencies including UNICEF, UNEP, UNDP, UN-Habitat, UN Women, and FAO, in partnership with the Zimbabwe Sunshine Group, the Foreign Affairs Ministry, EMA, and many others.

Quizzes and discussions were held, and the school children demonstrated their knowledge and enthusiasm for changing the status quo.

Rollen Chingavata from Lusitania Primary School impressed everyone with his exceptional knowledge of the causes and effects of climate change. “We are focusing on the 3Rs: reduce, reuse, and recycle,” he explained. “We are recycling used paper, making new paper from that, and continuing the cycle again and again.”

A teacher from the same school, Mrs. Chipadza, who also heads the SDGs club, echoed Chingavata’s sentiments. “We do a lot of things,” she said. “We have the SDG club, the environmental club, and like what the kids have shown you, we do clean-up campaigns, reuse old tires to plant vegetables, and our motto is ‘Let’s Go Green!'”

Meanwhile, Sibongile Mavimbela, a Senior Program Officer for Environment and Climate Change with the SADC Secretariat, echoed the call for action. “We commend the new youth network in the region for their innovative ideas,” Mavimbela said. “The SADC Secretariat is committed to supporting young people in finding solutions to environmental challenges.”

Mavimbela stressed the importance of collaboration between youth networks, governments, and UN agencies. “We need to work together to ensure a healthier environment for future generations,” she concluded.

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