Bulawayo, Zimbabwe: Supporting green spaces around supply dams

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City: Bulawayo
Country: Zimbabwe
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* This case study was written by the city and has not been edited by AIPH

Initiative: Supporting green spaces around supply dams

Sustainable recreation is an environmentally and socially responsible form of tourism which focuses on the intrinsic attractions of the environment, whilst minimising negative impacts on the ecosystems. As the city of Bulawayo, we try by all means to promote such an act, by providing recreational activities of such nature to the community. 

Swimming, boating, fishing , camping, skiing and even hiking, are some of the various activities being promoted by the Bulawayo City Council around the various supply dams. These activities are facilitated with the help of dam operators and security to try and attenuate any possible negative impacts from the activities. INYANKUNI, LOWER AND UPPER NCEMA are some of the supply dams which facilitate these types of activities for the city of Bulawayo. 

On the other hand, environmental impact assessment (EIA) is one of the key points which the Bulawayo City Council concentrates on, in their aim towards a GREEN BULAWAYO. As such the city puts measures to try and reduce any adverse impacts to the environment.
Such measures are being met through facilitation of proper landscaping such planting of flowers, trees, lawns around the dams in order to try and increase the level of green in the city of Bulawayo. This type of practice facilitates the increase in the level of oxygen in the atmosphere (reducing global warming) whilst bringing entertainment and mental relief to the community. Such places can be used for weddings and other different activities which enhance the health and wellbeing of the community. 

Addressing the urban challenge

Breadth of the issue – How are the problem(s) that are being tackled by your initiative affecting citizens/local businesses or a significant component of the local wildlife?

The initiative leads to reduction in water pollution and land pollution, which tends to lead to safer waters for both humans (swimming ) and aquatic life (such as fish). This is mainly due to the reduced amounts of nutrients which tend to lead to eutrophication, which has side effects of low oxygen levels in water leading to death of aquatic life. Other adverse effects which are reduced by the initiative include amount of algae which affects the quality of water for swimming and even the amount of mental frustration which can be attenuated by conjusive environment provided in these recreational activities. 

Depth of the issue – How seriously are the problems being tackled by your initiative impacting the life of the citizens/businesses/wildlife concerned?

These plants have been exploited to provide more one benefit in that, they bring health and wellbeing to the community by being used for enhancing the quality of recreational activities through proper landscaping such as planting flowers, lawns. 

Also benefits of ensuring a balanced ecosystem come with the initiative of BCC putting measures against POLLUTION near dams, which tends to lead to reduced eutrophication, meaning more fish for the community, and safer waters for swimming. 

The power of plants and natural ecosystems to deliver benefits

How is the initiative shaped by scientific evidence of the potential for plants and natural ecosystems to deliver benefits?

The initiative is innovative in that it tackles the problem from its primary source in order reduce the levels of algae in dams, rather than having to hire labour or machinery to manually remove it. 

Also the techniques and measures put in place, tend to be economical in that they lead to the reduction in the funds being provided to the treatment of raw water in Criterion and Ncema treatment works. This is mainly due to the reduction in the level of raw water pollution from mine runoff or even wastes being dumped in or near tributaries or rivers.
Also this project is funded through the buying of regulatory signs, which inform community members of laws, and regulations which need to be adhered to. 

How has the city exploited the potential of plants and associated ecosystems to deliver more than one benefit?

There is always a need for different groups to engage in collaborative work. The likes of EMA (Environmental Management Agency) make it their mandate to work hand in hand with BCC in its areas around supply dams so that a balance in the ecosystem is maintained. Control of leaking water pipes from pump stations and maintenance of wastewater treatment plants are some of the major issues that are worked on regularly. Since areas around dams are cattle ranching, it is of paramount importance to keep the water clean meaning the minimisation of waste entering or trickling into the dam. For landfills that are close to supply dams, BCC and EMA work on the clock to maintain the refuse around the area and reduce pollution of any kind. The Council with the help of the Government has also reduced the works of illegal miners who tend to mine around these dam landscapes. These illegal mining activities have a drastic effect on the environment as chemicals and other toxic substances are disposed of without care. Also, illegal settlers have been relocated to other areas for they cause harm to the environment with improper disposing of refuse. 

Innovative and Collaborative Solution

How does the initiative show evidence of feasibility, including on-going financial and logistical support? 

Besides illegal mining activities polluting the water sources underground and, on the surface, the gold that would have been recovered by those panners might not go to Fidelity Refineries since they are not working formerlyThis implies a loss to the government hence such practices dent the economy. Adding on illegal mining activities, the chemicals that they use may percolate to water resources/aquifers. Hence this poses a danger to cattle and other livestock in the area with the likes of lead being released to the environment. Also, illegal mining areas disfigure the topography of the area causing an increase in soil erosion which ultimately leads to. 

In what ways is the initiative innovative?

Eutrophication is one of the main challenges being faced by the ecosystem of today’s world and the city of Bulawayo is not an exception. This phenomenon is one of the key factors which are being tackled by the BCC initiative through the implementation of measures against pollution of the water and land. This then leads to the increase in the level of oxygen water, meaning that number of aquatic lives in dams increases due to the high quality of raw water. Such positive effects result in the increase in the number of fish for fishers in dam sites. Also, an increase in oxygen level leads to a reduction in the number of algae in water (which can be poisonous to the humans) meaning safer waters for swimming.

Such a safe environment which is provided by the Bulawayo City Council results in a healthier and happier community, courtesy of the refreshing recreational activities. With the rise in frequency of deaths due depression of recent reports, this can be taken as positive action towards mental relief of the community. 

How is the initiative supported by collaborative working across disciplines and sectors?

Dam operators and security officers on site, in the various different dams are the ones responsible for checking signs of eutrophication such as presence of algae, reduction in the number of aquatic lives for fishing. 

Other protocols include the checking of traffic or volume of people which visit the site, and this is usually done by security guards on gates into the site. 

How does the initiative demonstrate evidence of community support? 

As of a recent report from dam operators, there is little or no signs of algae, meaning the balance in nutrient levels is almost fair. 

Implementation, Impact and Replicability

How does the initiative demonstrate evidence of a track record of success against pursued objectives?

Maintenance of dams is incorporated in the city capital and revenue budget. 

How has the initiative had a ripple effect beyond the scope of the initiative itself, thereby demonstrating a change in the city’s and/or its partners’ way of working with plants?

Evidence of community support is seen by the increase in the number of people coming to the recreational sites in INYANKUNI, LOWER AND UPPER NCEMA DAMS. Also due to the cumulative reports from dam operators on site, it has been understood that most of the people coming to the recreational sites are adhering to the regulatory signs around the dams.  

Also support is seen from companies such as Environmental Management Agency (EMA), which is important for protecting the environment. 

How have other cities expressed interest in the initiative, or what potential does it have to interest other cities and be customised to their own circumstances?

As a result of positive reviews from INYANKUNI,LOWER AND UPPER NCEMA DAMS, the initiative is being considered to be introduced in other dams such as INSIZA, MZINGWANE AND THE UPCOMING GWAYITSHANGANI DAM 

Sustainability and Resilience

What efforts have been made to reduce the carbon footprint of the initiative?

This initiative has led to other rural district councils, such as Lupane and Gwanda district councils to try and adopt the same philosophy courtesy of the positive reviews from dam inspectors.

How have the anticipated impacts of climate change been considered?

Based on reviews of other cities who usually visit the dams, (since Bulawayo has the leading municipality in the country), such as gweru, kwekwe, have shown signs of interest towards this initiative. 

What processes does the initiative include for it to be considerate in its use of soils and other natural resources?

The reduction of the carbon footprint is facilitated by the growth of lawns, flowers, and plants which have a dual purpose of reducing carbon content in the atmosphere and providing a conducive environment for the entertainment of community members. 

Monitoring, Maintenance, and Management

How has the initiative been designed and implemented so that long-term needs for management and maintenance are reduced and can be met?

Anticipated impacts have been considered especially in the felling down of trees to build structures around the recreational facilities, and as a result the city is making sure that re-afforestation of trees is promoted 
Also the city has by-laws in place. 

What protocols are in place to facilitate monitoring of results?

The initiative has been designed such that the dam operators are responsible for the management of safety on sites and any un normalities within the dam areas. They tend to do this work with the help of security guards, thereby minimizing staff in the management and implementation of the initiative. 

How has the initiative been enhanced in response to monitoring of results?

Working hand in hand with rangers not only identifies poachers and illegal firewood collectors, but also illegal miners as well who do mining activities unskilfully leaving the ground in a bad condition. Fencing some of the areas that are supposed to be disturbed also helps in securing good conditions of the land which balances the ecosystem.