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The Consequences of Stream Bank Cultivation: A Threat to Zimbabwe’s Environmental Heritage

Stream bank cultivation

By Isabel Magoge

Stream bank cultivation, the practice of ploughing or cultivating along river banks, has been a contentious issue in Zimbabwe, particularly in wards 26 and 27 of Buhera South. Despite the cultural and spiritual significance of streams and rivers, this practice poses a significant threat to the environment and ecosystem. This essay explores the consequences of stream bank cultivation and the need for sustainable practices to preserve Zimbabwe’s environmental heritage.

Cultural and Spiritual Significance:
Streams and rivers have played a profound role in the spiritual and cultural life of Zimbabweans since time immemorial. They are revered as sacred entities, sources of life for aquatic organisms, and symbols of renewal and transformation. Rivers provide life-giving water for agriculture and support ecosystems that sustain a wide variety of flora and fauna.

Environmental Consequences:
Stream bank cultivation, however, causes siltation of rivers and other water bodies, leading to eutrophication. Siltation occurs when soil and sediment are deposited into waterways, causing the water to become cloudy and reducing its ability to support aquatic life. Eutrophication, on the other hand, occurs when excess nutrients, such as fertilizers and sewage, enter waterways, promoting the growth of algae and depleting oxygen levels. This can lead to the death of aquatic organisms and the degradation of water quality.

Legal Framework:
The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) prohibits stream bank cultivation, requiring farmers to cultivate at least 30 meters away from river banks. This regulation aims to protect the environment and prevent the degradation of water quality.

Stream bank cultivation poses a significant threat to Zimbabwe’s environmental heritage. It is essential to adopt sustainable practices, such as conservation agriculture and agroforestry, to preserve the cultural and spiritual significance of streams and rivers. Farmers, policymakers, and communities must work together to protect the environment and ensure the long-term sustainability of Zimbabwe’s natural resources.


1. Farmers should adopt conservation agriculture and agroforestry practices to reduce soil erosion and prevent siltation.
2. The EMA should enforce regulations and monitor stream bank cultivation to prevent environmental degradation.
3. Communities should engage in environmental education and awareness programs to promote sustainable practices and protect the cultural and spiritual significance of streams and rivers.


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Journalist & Media Technician