AN estimated 21 000 people are dying every year in the country due to effects of air pollution.

BY RICHARD MUPONDE

The situation has had ripple effects on the attainment of sustainable development goals, a Cabinet minister said on Friday.

Approximately seven million people succumb to pollution worldwide each year.

Speaking at a provincial clean-up campaign and World Environment Day commemoration on Friday in Plumtree, Matabeleland South Provincial Affairs minister Abednego Ncube called on citizens to take positive steps to combat air pollution.

“This year, we commemorate the day under the theme Air pollution, a silent killer – clean air, my right, my responsibility. The theme for the world Environment Day 2019, is a call for action to combat one of the greatest environmental challenges of our time.

“The theme invites us all to consider how we can make changes in our everyday lives to reduce the amount of air pollution we produce and stop its contribution to global warming and its effects on our health,” Ncube said.

He said the United Nations Environment Programme has urged governments across the globe to deal with this silent killer by adopting the 4Rs — reduce, recycle, reuse and recover — through their national policies.

“Ninety-one percent of early deaths occur in the low and middle income countries of which Zimbabwe is among those. Let’s embrace the 4Rs of waste management as a matter of policy as symbolised by the launch of the Presidential Clean-Up day by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in December 2018. Let’s form and support community initiatives aimed at embracing the results of the 4Rs of sustainable solid waste,” he said.

Addressing the same gathering, Industry and Commerce minister Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu, in whose constituency the event was being held, said Plumtree Town Council should tighten by-laws to punish litter bugs.

“It should not only be a clean-up campaign to pick up litter from the streets, but also cleaning our minds against throwing litter everywhere. I implore our town fathers to enact strict by laws to punitively deal with those who litter the environment. At the moment our by-laws are lax against litter bugs.

“We should ask ourselves what kind of Plumtree we want. Let’s keep the town clean, because it is the entry point into the country, to project a good image of the country,” he said.

The event was sponsored by Plumtree Bakery and attended by all government departments representatives, businesses and the Environment Management Agency.