The Network for Environmental Justice (NEJ), a coalition of Community Based Organisations (CBOs) and Journalists working towards environmental protection was launched on January 22, 2021.
The project aims to reduce the environmental information gap through wide and consistent coverage of environmental and climate change issues in Zimbabwe with the ultimate aim of influencing policy to bring about positive change.
It also aims to ensure that local communities and the media play a pro-active role in environmental protection and climate change issues through wide and consistent coverage that seeks to influence policy and set the national agenda with the ultimate aim of bringing about positive change.
The major objective of NEJ is to position local communities and the media to be able to effectively play their part in advocating for the protection and sustainable use of the environment at a local and national level. Some of the projects’ objectives include the following;
- To act as a medium for information flow on environmental issues between communities (including rural areas), environmentalist and policy makers at various levels and thus strengthening the role of the media in protecting the environment
- To promote public debate on environmental issues that affect ordinary Zimbabweans
- To raise awareness on environmental protection while at the same time influencing policy formulation and implementation with regards protection of the environment
The launch of NEJ coincided with a Webinar, which was held under the topic “Commercial Water Abstraction and Impacts for Harare”.
Representatives from the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA), Nyagui sub-Catchment Council, Young Volunteers for the Environment and an Independent Water Engineer participated during the online discussion.
The following issues came up during the online discussion:
- In Harare, Commercial Water abstraction, especially on residential premises has led to over-exploitation of underground water and the development is now a major cause or concern
- There is need for urgent action against companies involved in illegal commercial water abstraction as Harare risks running dry
- There is need for strict measures in issuance of permits for groundwater abstraction
- Residents who are supposed to abstract groundwater for primary (domestic purposes) have now ventured into commercial water abstraction and that is a major cause for concern
- Sustainable use and management of water in Harare is under threat due to over exploitation of groundwater
- Harare’s wetlands are under threat due to the fact that some companies are doing commercial groundwater abstraction on wetlands
Proposed Way Forward
In light of the above challenges, the following measures were proposed
- NEJ to create synergies with residents from affected areas and engage authorities while at the same time amplifying the issues in the media
- There is need for enforcement of legislation against illegal commercial water abstraction and in this regard, NEJ should work in collaboration with residents, the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), the Zimbabwe National Water Authority, sub-catchment councils among other officials
- Advocacy campaigns aimed at equipping residents with knowledge while empowering them to report issues of illegal commercial water abstraction
- Campaigns to encourage water harvesting in different communities
Source: Network for Environmental Justice