E40m to Save Wetlands in Mbabane

Mbabane Mayor Vusi Tembe says about E40 million will be required in the next five years to rehabilitate and protect wetlands across the city.

The total area under wetlands in the city is 571 hectares, which is about 5% of the total Mbabane land area consisting of riverbeds, riverbanks, and pools of restricted flows along rivers.

Over 50% of the wetland area in the capital city is already affected by buildings, invasive alien species (such as bug weed, wattle, and gum trees), illegal dumping of waste, pollution; and other detrimental human activities.

Mayor Tembe was speaking yesterday during an event hosted by the European Union Delegation in Eswatini for the restoration of the iconic Manzana Wetland. This was part of the EU’s #ForOurPlanet global campaign to promote citizens and civil society action for climate change resiliency.

The event was organized and coordinated by Yibutse Green Action.

EU Head of Cooperation Eva-Maria Engdahl represented the ambassador. Acting CEO of Mbabane City Ms B. Masina, Head of Parks and Recreation Titus Dlamini, and Executive Director of Yibutse Green Action also graced the occasion.

“The Municipal Council of Mbabane provides a budget annually to remove invasive alien plant species from the wetlands, however, more effort is required to cope with the challenge since the scale of the problem requires a lot of resources,” Mayor Tembe said.

“About 2,700 hectares of land is affected by invasive alien plants in the city and it is estimated that more than E40 million needs to be mobilized in the next five years to remove them.”

Mayor Tembe lauded the EU for its leadership role in support of nature-based solutions to climate change impacts and other projects for sustainable livelihoods.

“We applaud the EU for supporting the Council’s environmental and recreation programmes such as waste reduction and the construction of a skate park at the Coronation Park. We look forward to more partnerships in the future,” Mayor Tembe said.

He said restoring the Manzana wetland will help mitigate the impact of flooding of the Mbabane downstream near the CBD, which is a constant problem for the Council during the rainy season.

“As Council, we fully align ourselves with the #ForOurPlanet campaign which seeks to mobilize citizens and civil society to take action to address the climate and nature crises.

“Today’s event is appreciated for creating awareness among communities, particularly the youth, on the importance of wetlands and the need to keep them safe from harm. We call upon communities in the 12 Wards to follow the good example of Manzana to restore and protect wetlands,” Mayor Tembe said.

“I extend our appreciation to Yibutse Green and the team of organizers who worked tirelessly with the Council in the preparations for the event.”

Meanwhile, Yibutse Green Action Executive Director Musa Ndlangamandla said: “Whilst there are efforts from various entities in the environment preservation ecosystem, including the government, municipalities, NGOs, civil society, and communities to revive and protect wetlands, the major challenge is the lack of awareness among communities, particularly the youth, on the importance of wetlands and the need to keep them safe from harm. This lack of awareness leads to a greater danger of exposing the wetlands to illegal dumping of waste, heavy infestation with invasive plant species, and destruction by other forms of human encroachment. As Yibutse we will continue to strengthen partnerships to address this challenge across the country.”

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