Epworth U-Reporter speaks out to end land degradation in his community
The sentiments of Desire Nyagura (18), an active U-Reporter from Epworth, passionate about the environment and advocating for young people.
“I felt compelled to share this article to raise awareness about the harmful effects of land degradation.”
The sentiments of Desire Nyagura (18), an active U-Reporter from Epworth, a high-density suburb located 21km outside of Harare's central business district. Passionate about the environment and advocating for young people to be at the centre of climate change policies and strategies, Desire utilises the U-Report platform to address the accelerating climate crisis and its disproportionate impact on children and young people.
Desire sheds light on the wide-reaching and devastating consequences of land degradation and climate change on children in his community.
I felt compelled to share this article to raise awareness about the harmful effects of land degradation.
Poverty poses significant obstacles to their livelihoods in Epworth, home to primarily low to middle-income earners. Consequently, individuals have resorted to environmentally harmful methods to make ends meet. One such method is sand poaching, which has become a grave threat to the community, particularly its children. While notable efforts have been made by the local authority to facilitate the area's progress, they have needed help to effectively control sand poaching.
As a result of sand poaching, numerous dangerous gullies have been left behind, posing a severe risk to everyone, mainly including students attending Domboramwari High School, who must traverse the road near the cemetery. I am testament, when I travelled to go to school and can attest to its extreme peril. Due to climate change, the increasingly heavy rains have made the area prone to flooding, becoming treacherous and leading to tragic consequences. I witnessed a classmate nearly drown after being swept away by the strong current. Given that children use this road to commute to school, they have no choice but to brave the flooded stream during the rainy season, thereby endangering their lives. Nationally, in 2021, over 20 individuals, primarily children, died due to drowning. Of these recorded cases were two children from Epworth on their way to school. Without intervening, the gullies will continue to threaten the lives of children, resulting in tragic fatalities.
Moreover, this area's lack of water and sanitation pose significant health risks. The proximity to a settlement means that residents are far from designated water sources such as council boreholes and taps. Consequently, they resort to fetching water from these exposed gullies for household use. However, the water obtained from these gullies is entirely unsafe, with many community members using gullies to dump waste. This hazardous practice increases the likelihood of health outbreaks in Epworth. Children often tasked with fetching water from these gullies are exposed to waterborne diseases and the risk of drowning. Residents also express concerns about the risk of malaria, as the stagnant water in the gullies provides a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. Their primary concern is the safety and health of their children, who are more vulnerable to such environmental hazards.
Over the past two years, this area has gained notoriety for various robberies and deaths resulting from the presence of these gullies. Thieves and robbers exploit the gorges as hiding spots to attack unsuspecting passersby on the road. Residents of the area, including adults and their children, can no longer take their safety for granted. Incidences of rape have also been reported, with adolescent girls among the victims. Safety is no longer assured for these vulnerable girls.
I urge the relevant authorities to enforce stricter penalties for sand poachers, as they endanger the lives of all Epworth residents. These penalties should include hefty fines, confiscating their trucks, or even the arrest of sand poachers. Additionally, it is essential to erect fences around the cemetery to protect the graves from further exposure. To all media outlets, I recommend giving priority coverage to stories that seek to safeguard the fundamental rights of children and ensure their well-being.
Desire Nyagura is one of the many young people in Zimbabwe using U-Report. This messaging tool empowers young people worldwide to engage and speak out on issues that matter to them. UNICEF in Zimbabwe is committed to hearing the concerns and voices of children and young people to influence its programmes and strategies working with the government of Zimbabwe.
To find out more on U-Report, visit U-Report Zimbabwe (ureport.in)