ZELA and EMA train communities on incorporating a child rights perspective to the development of local environmental action plans in Mutare Rural District


28 June 2022

By Refias Sithole-Marange Development Trust (MDT)

Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) has always done a lot of development initiatives in mining affected communities in a bid to transform the lives of local communities through promoting social, economic, and environmental activities that respect community rights. The recent Local Environmental Action Plan (LEAP) process training is one of the initiatives to capacitate communities on environmental management and protection. The training was held on the 17th and 18th Of May 2022 at St Andrews Mission in Marange. The meeting was attended by different stakeholders which include local councillor (ward 30), environmental sub committees, Environmental Management Agency (EMA), village heads, community-based organisations (CB0s) and the youth at large. The main objective of the training was to raise awareness among these stakeholders on environmental child rights approach to LEAPs, capacitate them on LEAPs development and implementation to protect the environment. LEAPs are environmental plans that local Authorities develop for the management of environment within areas under their jurisdiction. Local Authorities are mandated as stated in section 95 of Environmental Management Act to develop these plans.

Local communities are required to identify, evaluate, and rank main environmental problems within their communities and place clear goals and actions needed to resolve them. They are also required to identify and mobilise stakeholders to represent the interest of each group in a community to proffer collective solutions. LEAPs processes encourage people mostly affected by environmental issues to play an active and influential role in ensuring sustainable use of environmental resource base thus community members take responsibility for addressing environmental problems with the support of others.

The training also included the technical knowledge on the government structures available which governs environmental management and protection and how it works hand in hand with other government departments down to local levels. Locally these structures range from individual monitors, village development Committee, ward development Committee and their subcommittees to local Authorities and beyond. These government structures and multistakeholders play a critical role in developing LEAPs with transparency and accountability. It also increases ownership and control which is an important component of sustainability. Moreso, it helps to negotiate and mediate in cases of conflicting interests.

After going through training sessions, most participants highlighted that they had understood the initiative and resolved to participate in development and implementation of LEAPs for the betterment of the community through engaging and capacitating village heads and other traditional leaders to revive and strengthen village development Committee and ward development Committees with their environmental subcommittees. There were also suggestions on other strategies which can be put in place so that the welfare of children is considered in developing LEAPs. These included capacitating environmental clubs in schools, awareness campaigns as well as the need to include the junior councillors at village and ward level and incorporate them into positions in subcommittees.

Infor @MDT

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.