Sustainable ‘Green’ Projects for Zimbabwe

In this Article I shall be discussing how Global Warming and Climate Change are affecting Zimbabwe and which ‘green’ projects can be implemented to help tackle these global security issues. Humanity is conducting an unintended, uncontrollable, global pervasive experiment which has ultimate consequences second only to nuclear war. Humanity has dramatically increased the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases (methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), CFCs (gases that also affect the ozone layer) in the Earth’s atmosphere leading to temperatures rising, by industrialisation, burning of fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil and clearing of forests and the effect of rapid population growth in many regions.
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Global Warming is a result of the greenhouse effect which raises the temperature of the atmosphere near the earth. Climate Change is a result of Global Warming, as temperatures increase so does evaporation, precipitation and sea level. Cloud cover is also affected therefore altering the distribution of climate across the surface of the planet. Industrialised western countries are blamed for Global Warming and Climate Change, measures to counter these security issues are mainly being implemented in western countries more so than Africa. This should not be the case as the global climate as a whole is being affected, so each country should put in their own measures towards the tackling of Global Warming and Climate Change.

RELEVANCE TO ZIMBABWE

Zimbabwe signed up to the Kyoto Protocol which is an international agreement to tackle Global Warming and Climate Change. Changes to our national temperatures will lead to changes in ecological, economic and social systems as they are all in delicate balance with the environment, which in turn is dependent on the climate. Zimbabwe is facing a lot of issues which are contributing to OR are a result of Global Warming and Climate Change;

1) Erratic Weather Patterns - Increased temperatures and unpredictable rainfall patterns, longer spells of dry heat or intense rains, affecting ecosystems and agricultural output

2) DeforestationHabitat loss, soil erosion, land degradation and decreased capturing of CO2 in the atmosphere, some areas becoming semi-arid

3) Ecosystem ImpactLoss of wetlands, siltation affecting river levels (Save River), deliberately lit forest fires increasing CO2 emissions, nitrogen rich waters from fertilizers killing aquatic life, local extinctions of species, loss of flora and fauna (biodiversity)

4) Increase in Pests and DiseaseLonger dry or wet spells brings more diseases, increase in malaria and malnutrition, e.g. mining pits left bare holding still water which breeds mosquitos (Mutoko)

5) Failing Agricultural Output and Increase in National HungerFood shortage from over farmed, poor soils, drought, desertification (Muzarabani, Mbire) and floods, overdependence on irrigation affecting river levels (Honde Valley)

PROPOSED GREEN PROJECTS

1. Solar: The digital divide between people in rural and urban areas is vast with rural people at a disadvantage growing up with little or no electricity. To combat the rural energy crisis solar panels can be installed into homes, schools and clinics. Solar is a clean form of energy and has no impact on the environment.

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Solar products can be made available for purchase especially to farmers; Solar borehole pumps, Solar flood lights, Solar power for tobacco curing systems, Solar electric fences, Solar lamps and radios and their charging stations, Solar lighting for fowl runs and hatchery/incubation chambers, Solar water geysers.

Solar Farming can also be practiced, rows of solar panels are placed on the ground to capture sunlight for electricity production. This electricity produced can be added to the national grid, combating the shortage of electricity supply already in the country.

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Advantages of using solar include;

a) Eco-friendly, free, dependable and operates without needing any electricity

b) Water resistant tubes that can withstand small hail and easy to maintain

c) Reduced electricity bills,  fast payback period.

2. Biogas: All biodegradable waste (organic, agricultural, slurry) can be collected and piled to produce biogas which can be used for cooking in homes. Rural households can be fitted with biogas apparatus decreasing the dependency on firewood, therefore combating deforestation and meeting the energy needs of a growing population. Parts of rural Zimbabwe already use biogas on a household level.

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On a larger scale an Anaerobic Digester can be used to produce gas that can sold to households that use gas stoves. This means organic material does not go to waste but actually produces a clean form of energy.

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3. Wind Farming: Areas with high wind speeds can be used to produce electricity using wind turbines. Germany and the U.K are leading in the production of renewable energy with a ¼ of their electricity supply coming from renewable energy sources, mostly wind. They are the only countries on track to reach their targets set by the Kyoto Protocol. Zimbabwe has a chance to use the elements in regions like Nyanga to produce electricity for the communities benefit.

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4. Geothermal: Research should begin on how Zimbabwe can harvest geothermal energy. Geothermal activity is happening all around us underground, an example is the Hot Springs in Manicaland.

5. Mini Hydro: In areas where lots of rivers can be found (Murehwa, Honde Valley), mini hydro-dams which produce electric power can be built to supply nearby communities. With growing populations and demand for electricity in rural areas on the rise, projects like these can contribute to rural electrification. A good example is Abofile Estate in Nyanga, they produce their own electricity and also supply the surrounding communities.

6. Fish Farming: Fish can be bred in fish dams to supply the market. The types of fish can range from Bream, Sardines, Trout e.t.c. Fish farming protects our wild stocks which are rapidly decreasing in numbers and becoming locally extinct. High nitrogen levels in rivers from an over dependence on fertilizers and overfishing are the main reasons. An example is in Kariba Dam, too many boats from Zimbabwe and Zambia are fishing Kapenta (sardines) and with little regulation they are even fishing in breeding grounds.

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7. Harvesting Water: Rain water is collected into reservoirs during the rainy season and then sold for different uses like irrigation in the dry season. In areas like Greendale, a suburb in Harare where residence find it hard to dig boreholes water is already sold and supplied to residents.

8. Conservation Farming: This practice of farming is growing all over the world because it has no impact on the environment. Farming in Zimbabwe has a high dependency on fertilizers which have an effect on the environment, as excess fertilizers are washed into nearby rivers killing aquatic life. In most of the local rivers you find little (cat fish) or no fish because they are becoming locally extinct. With conservation farming organic means (composts heaps and organic fertilizers) are encouraged. Organic waste and slurry (sewage) can be collected to produce compost heaps which can be sold as manure to farmers. Harare sewage can produce slurry and sold to surrounding commercial farmers instead of letting it flow into Lake Chivero.

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9. Afforestation: With high levels of deforestation happening in Zimbabwe (especially in tobacco grown regions) sections of land can be allocated for woodlots. The wood can then be used for multiple purposes including being sold as a source of fuel. If the high level of deforestation continues, Zimbabwe is predicted to be semi-arid desert by 2025. Woodlots benefit the environment by decreasing deforestation and the dependency on firewood from nearby forests.

10. Wood Pellets/ Briquettes: Forestry companies produce a lot of sawdust which can be collected and compacted into wood pellets/ briquettes using biomass densification technology. These pellets/briquettes can be sold to homes and tobacco growing farmers as a source of fuel. 2013 was the highest tobacco production in Zimbabwe ever with small scale famers accounting for most of it. New regulations expect these tobacco farmers to have their own form of fuel to cure their tobacco and stop cutting down trees. Wood pellets/briquettes will tackle deforestation and the burning of charcoal which contribute to Global Warming and Climate Change.

11. Zero Grazing Farms: Livestock is fed in pens making them less susceptible to disease. Cattle fattening is a form of zero grazing and is already being practiced in Zimbabwe. Dairy cattle can also be kept this way and with the aid of manufacturing technologies rural farmers can produce products like creams, cheese and milk to sell to the local communities. Bull farms are another example of zero grazing, sperm is collected from the bulls and sold for artificial insemination, which is the best way to make the most of the female reproductive system. The waste in the pens can be collected for biogas or compost heaps which can be sold or used for organic farming.

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12. Rural/ Eco-Tourism: Regions with beautiful scenery have potential to be used for eco-tourism. Eco-lodges which run on solar and biogas can be built, they can also promote Zimbabwean art and culture. Tourist routes can be mapped out to make regular stops at these lodges, rural towns, heritage and natural sites encouraging tourists to spend money, therefore boosting the local economy. To attract tourists outdoor activities must be promoted, canoeing, camping, abseiling, water rafting, kayaking, fishing contests like the tiger fishing completion on the Zambezi River which attracts tourist as far as South Africa and Namibia.

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To promote rural tourism villagers can host international volunteers/visitors who pay them money for the rural life experience. Volunteers can be attached to work in local schools, clinics, orphanages and farms. Volunteering is very common in Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, Tanzania and generates a lot of income as the volunteers themselves pay money for the experience.

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All the above projects create income and employment as well as being eco-friendly contributing to the tackling of Global Warming and Climate Change. They give Zimbabweans alternatives, moving away from the ‘copy next door’ syndrome which is rampant in Zimbabwe (multiple commuter buses in cities, increased numbers of small scale tobacco farmers destroying forests).

Many are agreed that climate change may be one of the greatest threats facing the planet, making it a major security issue. We have a responsibility to devise means of production which can provide the necessary goods and services to a growing population without causing irreversible biotic impoverishment.

Zimbabwe is a very beautiful country blessed with a lot of natural resources, but I feel Zimbabweans in general do not have a sense of sustainability. The mentality is more ‘live for today and tomorrow will sort itself out somehow’. We don’t realise that we need to change our attitude and ways so our descendants can have a decent future. So, myself and a few other young Zimbabwean professionals have proposed to start Social Enterprise Academies (SEA) around Zimbabwe, which will train and educate youths on these green projects. Youths are the future, so it is important that sustainability is instilled in them, and at the same time generating income and employment. The success of SEA depends on securing funding which is a challenge in Zimbabwe at the moment, if there is anyone who can help us secure this funding please get in touch with me on rmuwaniri@hotmail.com.

We want our future children and grandchildren to have the same opportunities we have, see the world the way we see it, in its purest and natural form.

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