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ZELA encourages Communities to develop and participate in LEAPs processes

22 June 2022

Story By Josphat Makaza and Natally Gombakomba

Stakeholders who attended the just ended two-day training on Local Environmental Action Plans (LEAPs) in Marange have been encouraged to take up responsibilities in the development, implementation, and monitoring of the processes to ensure the environment is protected for the benefit of the present and future generations.

Organized by the Chiadzwa Community Development Trust and supported by the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association and the Environmental Management Agency, the program was meant to strengthen key stakeholders to promote the right to a healthy environment for children affected by environmental degradation because of extractive industries.

According to ZELA, Local Environment Agency Plans (LEAPs) are important tools that can be utilised by different stakeholders for the identification and solving of environmental issues in the district

Fadzai Midzi, ZELA official said the process involves all key stakeholders, the community, Government Departments, local leadership, environment committees and subcommittees, councilors and religious groups coming together to identify the environmental challenges in their areas, assessing, prioritizing them in terms of their severity and developing actions plans for the identified challenges as well as the monitoring plans.

“Section 95 of the Environmental Management Act (CAP 20:27) has mandated local authorities to develop LEAPs for the management and protection of the environment.” she said that the Chimanimani Rural District Council has developed LEAPs which are still being finalised.

Environmental sub-committee for Mukwada and Chiadzwa Ward, traditional leaders and community representatives welcomed the training, describing it as a stitch in time which will help restore the degraded land whilst addressing environmental challenges faced by children living near mines.

The Local traditional leader, Mr. Ndakaamba said the child rights approach initiated by ZELA    promotes children and youth participation in the development of LEAP.

“These also help strengthen our capacity to negotiate for funds and promote community participation so that they are aware of what is going on in the community “, he said.

 In their 2019 Zimbabwe Environment Outlook report, the Environmental Management Agency (EMA), said mining and poverty has been the drivers for environmental damage over the past decade.

 The report state that community members as well as children and young people are exposed to the negative impacts of the environment, and little is being done to correct this.

” Given their physical makeup and position in society, children and young people bear the brunt of the environmental damage which can potentially result in irreversible, lifelong, and even transgenerational consequences”, said EMA official.

The official also called for collaborative efforts to ensure Marange is a safe place for the children.

The meeting was made possible through the support of Terre des Hommes.

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