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World Wetlands Day statement
Youth Agrarian Society
February 02, 2013

Today the 2nd of February 2013, is the World Wetlands Day, a day when the Convention on Wetlands was adopted in 1971 in Ramsar Iraq. Each year on this day, governments, non-governmental organisations and civic society undertake actions aimed at raising awareness on the importance of wetlands and the social and economic benefits they present, if properly utilised. This year's commemorations are held under the theme: "Wetlands and Water Management", which aims to reflect on the interdependent relationship between water and wetlands, as the later are areas of land that are saturated with water for almost all part of the year and are highly productive ecosystems.

Wetlands slow erosion, help recharge groundwater and help prevent flooding. They trap sediments and particles in polluted water, allowing clean, fresh water to pass through hence playing a critical role in ensuring good quality water in large volumes and form part of catchments feeding into major water ways and rivers. In Harare alone, major wetlands (vleis and open green spaces), have been destroyed by development, pollution and informal urban agriculture. This has resulted in serious water shortages and the contamination of groundwater, as evidenced by the recent outbreaks of water-borne diseases (typhoid and cholera).

There is construction work going on behind the National Sports Stadium, on one of the wetlands, which is not doing any justice to the environment and should be condemned in the strongest sense. There are also reports that the government has sold land to a certain businessman who intends to construct a shopping mall on an area which is a wetland located in Borrowdale behind Dandaro Old People's home. This is a deliberate move by the government to ignore the environmental consequences associated with such actions, despite calls by environmentalists to stop.

As Youth Agrarian Society we continue to call upon the youth, men and women of this nation to collectively act to protect wetlands at the same time utilising them in a sustainable manner that does not result in their degradation. The government should put in place comprehensive polices to conserve wetlands and develop strategies for capacitating different communities to realise the socio and economic benefits of the wetlands in their areas.

Visit the Youth Agrarian Society fact sheet

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