CHATSWORTH – The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) has launched the Masvingo fire awareness campaign amid concern about the high rate of uncontrolled fires which consumed 7 495.14ha of land in the province last season.
The launch was done at Chatsworth in Gutu on Wednesday last week. Gutu is the second worst affected district in the province behind Mwenezi and the two saw 2 284.73ha and 4 220,14 hectares being consumed by fires respectively.
Speaking at the launch EMA provincial manager Robson Mavondo said most of the veld fires which occurred in Gutu are attributed to farmers who were clearing up land for farming using fire to burn vegetation.
"Gutu has over the years been the worst affected district with the biggest contributors being ward 1, ward 3 and ward 32. In the past season, a total of 2 284.73ha were burnt in Gutu district alone, with the biggest contributor being ward 32. This is a sure cause for concern as families and communities are traumatized by losing their properties," said Mavondo.
The theme at the event was "Protect the Environment, Life and Property-Prevent Veld Fires, and the event was graced by Gutu West MP Tongai Muzenda who urged Gutu residents to avoid uncontrolled fires.
Mavondo said that every second week of May was set aside to raise awareness on the dangers of veld fires and the need to prevent them.
The fire season in Zimbabwe has been statutorily stipulated as starting from July 31 and ending with the fall of the first rains. Zimbabwe expriences the savannah climate that has distinct wet and dry seasons. The vegetation in the country comprises deciduous trees that shed their leaves and grass species that dry during the dry season, thereby providing fuel for raging veld fires. This saw Government of Zimbabwe declaring the second week of May each year as the National Fire Week.