Innocent Ruwende Senior Reporter
The country has witnessed a drastic reduction in the total area affected by veld fires from July to October from 815 096 hectares last year to 643 482 hectares.
This translates to a 21.1 percent reduction in fire incidents.
Since July 31 this year, a total of 1 249 fire incidents destroying 643 482ha have been recorded.
The veld fires have claimed three lives as compared to four during the same period last year.
The victims this year were from Zvimba, Gokwe and Goromonzi.
“This translates to 21,1 percent decrease compared to the same period in 2017 when 1 710 fire incidents were recorded, burning 815 096 hectares of land,” said Environmental Management Agency (EMA) communications officer Mrs Joyce Chapungu in a media alert on veld fires.
“Nationally, 1,7 percent of Zimbabwe’s land area has been burnt since the onset of the fire season as compared to 2.1 percent last year.
“The Environmental Management Agency has been monitoring veld fires since July 31, 2018, to date. During the period between the July 31 and the October 31 each year, the likelihood of runaway fires is very high due to the conducive environment which includes the availability of dry flammable material, wind and heat.”
EMA attributed the decline in fire incidents to positive responses to awareness programmes and fire management projects, which the agency rolled out throughout the country, particularly in the fire-prone provinces.
Mashonaland West remained the worst affected province so far, with over 257 830 hectares of land burnt, followed by Matabeleland South (97 238), Midlands (70 134) and Matabeleland North (64 705) provinces.
“The agency encourages communities in fire-prone areas to be on high alert during this period,” said Mrs Chapungu. “Ensure that fire guards are free from any flammable material, fire-fighting equipment is in place and take heed of weather reports.
“With stakeholder participation and maintenance of fire guards, the hectarage destroyed by fires is set to go down. The direct benefits of a well conserved environment will act as an incentive for community based fire management. Traditional leaders are a key institution in making this a success.”