Hwange Villagers Finger Mines In Water Pollution
By Rutendo Mapfumo
Villagers surrounding Deka River in Hwange have decried lack of clean water as a result of pollution stemming from mines that are allegedly dumping contaminated water into the river, Nhau has learnt.
Deka River, their main water source flows through Mwemba, Chachachunda, Mashala and Zvabo Makuyu villages with a population of approximately 6 052 families is the major source of water posing danger to livestock and members of the community.
Villagers claim pollution started in the late 90s originating from mining companies such as Hwange Colliery and other mushrooming small companies that have invaded coal fields along the river.
“Our cattle and goats are highly affected as it appears the water damages the reproductive system of the animals” said Pasca Mpofu, Ward 9 Councillor.
He said most domestic animals that drink from the river; allegedly suffer from still birth while some are unable to conceive.
Companies which are blamed for the pollution are Hwange Colliery Company, Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC), Chilota and Sandledge Mining who are discharging effluent into the river.
However, comments from the named companies could not be availed before going for publication.
Studies conducted by the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) revealed that acid mine drainage (AMD) from the mining activities in the area was affecting aquatic life thus fish were also dying.
Other pollutants from mining activities such as coal dust or fines were cited as contributors to the death of fish in Deka River.
AMD refers to the outflow of acidic water from a mining site. In most cases, this acidic water is a result of mixture of air and other chemicals from the mines.
Rosemary Shoko from Chachachunda village said women were the most affected, as they were in constant contact with the water during domestic chores.
“This is a crisis that needs urgent attention, and the delay that is taking place has become a great worry to us. We are the most affected as we must walk for several kilometres to access clean water. Our primary food source, which is fish, has decreased due to pollution,” she said.
“Most of the time when fishing from the river, we do not get anything because the fish have died, thus again putting us in a position to look for alternative relish. We are very worried for our health, considering that we are exposed to the contaminated water which makes our skins itchy when we bath. What are we going to eat when our animals are also dying from this calamity?” Nhau/Indaba