Tunatazama - Community Monitors

Environmental Protection in Zambia – where is the problem?

Nsama Musonda Kearns, Environmental Conservationist

In my law class at University, I learned that laws are developed to provide guidance on how people should live and behave and manage their resources sustainably. The law which begins with our supreme document the constitution acknowledges the significance of preserving our environment and this is emphasized in various legal and policy frameworks that govern Environment and Natural Resources Management in our country. What ever we do as citizens of the Democratic Republic of Zambia it has to be within the legal confines of the law, failure to which it becomes illegal and tatamount to arrest or discipline as prescribed by the said law.

Surprisingly despite the Mines and Minerals development act and environmental laws of our land being clear that no Mining should commence without approved Environmental Impact Assessments or Environmental Project Briefs from the Zambia Environmental Management Agency, Manganese is taking place in Luapula Province and not one of the Mining Companies EIA/EPB is available on ZEMA website or any other relevant authority.

Arable land that once supported agriculture and biodiversity is degraded! Local people are dying and getting injured from the harzadous way in which manganese is being extracted and non of the extractors are contributing to the Environmental Protection Fund

Labor laws are being violated, people are working without contracts and getting paid below the minimum wage

The mining laws are being violated, miners with exploration licences are engaged in full mining as opposed to collecting samples to determine the geological formation of the ore

Traditional leaders and local people are being exploited, being taken for granted, and now customary land is at risk of diminishing

The minister of mines has called upon youths to form mining cooperative for them to benefit from mineral resources, this is a very welcome and long awaited move, but how are we going to preserve our environment if we have more miners before correcting the wrongs that are being committed in the mining sector?

When will ZEMA come in to ensure that our environment is protected?

The cost of reversing environmental damage cannot be compared to the amount of money spent on the actual process of damaging it and some damage such as loss of biodiversity maybe irreplaceable.

Please our law enforcers, help us to do things in the right way. The illegalities surrounding manganese mining in Luapula province are well known and they will take coordinated efforts to correct. Our Seventh National Development Plan is based on a multi sectoral approach because all actors involved need to play their role.

Some mining licenses cover critical areas of biodiversity such as forests, game management areas, rivers and wetland and if no action is taken the effects and impact will be regrettable.

In conclusion the problem is with inadequate implementation of the law and the reluctant mood to address issues by those with the mandate to do so.

My appeal is for ZEMA to make available all the EIA/EPB documents for license holders in Luapula. The Zambia we want should abide by the law to ensure sustainabilityof our Environment and our Natural Resources. #carefornature