Towards a Model for Wetland Rehabilitation in South Eastern Zimbabwe
The rehabilitation of degraded wetlands is a very costly approach owing to the goals, options and funding as well as the involvement of different stakeholders and their different interests. This study investigated the different factors that influence the performance of rehabilitation projects. The investigation sought to design a wetland rehabilitation project that is feasible and ecologically sustainable. A quantitative research design was used to document and collect data. The observation technique was employed to gather data in the field. Field observations complemented the structured face-to-face interviews. Topographic maps and aerial photographs of the study area were used to identify settlements, wetlands and rehabilitation projects. Various statistical packages such as ANOVA, Pearson Correlation analysis and T-Tests were used to analyse and interpret the findings and draw conclusions on the set hypotheses. Literature reviewed in this study show that wetland loss is an on-going phenomenon that needs drastic efforts to reverse it. Data obtained from the Meteorological Services Department demonstrate that climate change is an on-going trend characterised by an increase in the intensity and frequency of drought. The findings from field observations and interviews reveal further the need for a paradigm shift from simple and basic rehabilitation measures to comprehensive state of the art rehabilitation interventions in order to re-establish the structure, function and biological integrity of wetlands. Wetland rehabilitation only covers 23% of the possible degraded wetlands that should be rehabilitated. Technical, managerial, financial and community circumstances contribute to the current poor state of wetland rehabilitation in Zimbabwe. Financial funding of wetland rehabilitation is limited and in cases where it is availed, rehabilitation structures do not reflect the massive amounts injected into the project. Given that the current wetland rehabilitation projects lack a systems thinking approach in addressing the underlying causes of wetland loss more needs to be done. The studies underscore that current rehabilitation efforts are commendable but fail to address the sustainability of the wetlands themselves and the rehabilitation projects themselves. The research findings suggest ways to improve rehabilitation projects. A national wetland degradation response strategy should include but not limited to wetland rehabilitation. The rehabilitation plan should be site specific and comprehensive enough. Strong institutions such as Wetland Rehabilitation Committees or Teams responsible for rehabilitation should be established. The starting point would be to establish wetland district rehabilitation teams that should comprise of 10-15 project implementers. Their responsibility will be to install and maintain rehabilitation structures. These teams can be employed on a fulltime basis. Some of the proceeds from wetland production should be reinvested for wetland rehabilitation through buying fence and introducing agroforestry activities instead of over-reliance on donor fund. These results are used to design a Wetland Sustainability Model (WESUMO) that provides tools for wetland rehabilitation .