Government is tightening environmental laws to rein in people who cut down trees causing deforestation and contributing to climate change, Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Deputy Minister Cde Douglas Karoro said.
Speaking at the commissioning of a biogas digester at Chitsungo Mission Hospital in Mbire district on Thursday last week, Cde Karoro said the hospital used to be a major consumer of firewood, immensely contributing to deforestation in Mbire but was now using biogas, which was clean energy. He added that deforestation was contributing immensely to climate change and Government had joined hands with other countries in enforcing laws that mitigate climate change.
"Government will impose stiffer penalties on people who cut down trees. The laws are there but they are not being enforced. Government is now committed to enforce these laws.
"Those caught cutting down trees will be arrested, fined up to $1 000 or jailed for up to two years," said Cde Karoro.
"The Environmental Management Agency was being hindered from implementing some policies by people who protected those arrested for violating environmental laws. Under the new dispensation there will be nothing like that.
"The hospital owes the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority about $60 000 and at one point electricity was cut off because of the arrears. Some of the patients who come here have no capacity to pay their bills, the biogas will help the hospital cut down on its electricity usage.
"I thank Carbon Green Africa for complimenting Government efforts through supporting sustainable and environmentally friendly livelihood initiatives such as conservation farming, nutritional gardens and bee keeping."
Carbon Green Africa (CGA) managing director Mr Charles Ndondo said in assisting in the fight against climate change the company started the Kariba REDD+ Project in four districts along the Kariba belt, which are Mbire, Nyaminyami, Hurungwe and Binga.
"To date, the company has sold five million carbon credits to international buyers. The money is divided between the four districts. Mbire Rural District Council receives 40 percent direct cash payment while 30 percent goes to the community through implementing projects."
Acting Mbire district medical officer Dr Edwicks Chidziva said the total population in Mbire was 86 746 and Chitsungo is the referral centre for 13 clinics.
"There is a huge influx of people from other countries including Mozambique. There is no network connectivity at the hospital posing challenges during emergencies. We are appealing for a booster. Our monthly electricity bill was $1 200 and the bulk of it was consumed by our electric stove. Now we are able to channel that money towards other needs."