Gvt’s Commitment Welcomed as NECJ Highlights Urgency for Harare’s Masterplan Overhaul

By Staff Reporter
The Network for Environmental and Climate Justice (NECJ) commended the Government of Zimbabwe for its commitment to ensuring that all 92 local authorities in the country will possess approved Masterplans by June 2024.

The focus, however, honed in on Harare, where an outdated Masterplan, last revised in 1992, has steered the city towards chaotic land allocations, especially on wetlands.

“Harare’s outdated Masterplan makes little reference to wetlands and their invaluable services for the City of Harare. Wetlands degradation has been rampant in Harare and this is coming on the backdrop of erratic water supplies, a situation that could be addressed through preservation and restoration of wetlands which are Harare’s second source of water after run-off.

“It is worth noting that land use planning in Harare has largely failed to integrate the issue of wetland ecosystems and this has come with heavy costs for the city. Harare continues to use outdated colonial legislation on urban planning which was initially meant for a smaller population and this works against proper land use and
planning .

“At a time the city is using an outdated master plan, the demand for land for construction or housing purposes is continuously high in Harare and consequently, these projects are being undertaken at the detriment of wetland ecosystems. It is imperative that the updated Masterplan for Harare appreciates the fact that the future sustainability of the capital is dependent on wetlands preservation and environmental sustainability,” said the advocacy group

NECJ said land use planning should incorporate the protection of wetlands in Harare.

“Proper land use planning in Harare should incorporate the need to protect wetlands in line with the vision of sustainable development of the capital. Harare’s updated Masterplan must critically examine the state of the city’s wetlands with a view of sustainably managing them.

“There is an imperative need to conduct a detailed study of the environment and the state of wetlands so as to allow for appropriate measures to be taken in protecting the environment. A number of wetlands in Harare need restoration after having been damaged while the remaining ones need to be served from invasion/destruction.

“Development and implementation of Local Environmental Action Plans (LEAPs) as stipulated by the Environmental Management Act is also critical for the protection of wetlands. Effective town planning should be anchored on environmental sustainability and sustainable growth and development of the capital,” said NECJ

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