FOR many years the environmental agenda in Africa and other developing countries appears to have been dominated by conservation of natural resources and other environmental issues of global conce
Although other issues are coming into play, this still seems to be the case. I do agree that conserving our natural resources is important, but there other more fundamental environmental issues that have a direct bearing on people that are being downplayed.
Although a growing proportion of the people in developing countries are living in urban areas, initiatives to ensure a safe urban environment are very weak. People in urban areas are exposed to many toxic substances through air and water pollution as well as contamination of food when it is grown, processed, stored and cooked.
Workers in many chemical industries are exposed to dangerous chemicals, some of which are already banned in developing countries.
The sad thing is the people affected do not have information about how environmental pollution affects their health. For example, most people living down-wind of heavy industries are exposed to dangerous fumes from the chimneys. Some of these substances cause cancer. Think of the fumes they breathe from the battered vehicles in the city. The list is endless.
The establishment of a new environmental management law for Zimbabwe is a welcome move to protect our people from environmental diseases.
However, for this to happen, a correct political climate, free of corruption and sacred cows, is required so that the environmental law can be enforced without fear or favour. Zimbabweans must demand environmental accountability from the government of the day.