Mozambique Water Pollution from a dumpsite, Zimbabwe


A trans boundary pollution conflict is developing between Zimbabwe and Mozambique over an uncontrolled dumpsite in Zimbabwe’s eastern border city, Mutare. The dump site, located at the spot where Munene River which flows into Mozambique begins, has been in operation for six decades. All rubbish from Mutare, ranging from gabbage collected from residential suburbs, to hospitals and industries is dumped at the dumpsite located in Nyakamete Industrial area. Munene River drains into the Revue river which in turn flows into Chicamba Dam which supplies water to the provincial capital Chimoio, Manica City and Gondola. Apart from supplying domestic water to the province, Chicamba Dam is also a major recreational facility for Manica Province and is a source of livelihood for fishermen. Zimbabweans flock to Manica City in Mozambique for a variety of fish which range from small kapenta to brims, also sourced from Chicamba, among other sources. The Manica Provincial Director for the Environment is reported to have described the situation as ‘very serious’. The Governor of Manica City set up a task force to study the problem and make recommendations which were unenforceable due to the lack of preparedness on the part of Mutare City Council which cited financial difficulties. So far only the Manica Town Council and Manica Local Government are leading the campaign to stop the pollution whilst there is no civil society activism on the Zimbabwe side. In fact most Zimbabweans are not aware of the problem, mainly due to lack of medical care.

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Basic Data
NameMozambique Water Pollution from a dumpsite, Zimbabwe
ProvinceManicaland in Zimbabwe (source of Pollution) and Manica Province Mozambique (Effects)
SiteMutare City Council and Manica City in Mozambique
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Waste Management
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Water access rights and entitlements
Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Other industries
Specific CommoditiesMunicipal Waste, Garbage Collected From Residential Surbubs And Hospitals
Industrial waste
Domestic municipal waste
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe quantity of waste dumped is unknown
Project Area (in hectares)2000000
Level of Investment (in USD)N/A
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Potential Affected Population1,000,000 - 2,000,000
Start Date2009
Company Names or State EnterprisesMutare City Council from Zimbabwe - Mutare based Industries also dump industrial waste, including toxic wastes at the dumpsite
Relevant government actorsMutare City Council, Environmental Management Agency, Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Zimbabwe National Water Authority
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersManica City Council & Manica Local Government, Mozambique
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups MobilizingLocal government/political parties
Forms of MobilizationCreation of alternative reports/knowledge
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Food insecurity (crop damage), Genetic contamination, Soil contamination
OtherEutrophication, presence of heavy metals in the water
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Deaths, Other environmental related diseases
Potential: Accidents, Infectious diseases
OtherThe Manica Town Council blames past cases of Cholera on the polluted river
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Specific impacts on women
Potential: Violations of human rights
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseNew legislation
Under negotiation
Application of existing regulations
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Development of AlternativesCompanies must stop disposing toxic waste into the river, rather they must invest into technology which prevents pollution

Activists want a complete overhaul of the current Environmental Manage Act to give the agency prosecuting authority and the setting up of an environmental pollution court staffed with judges with knowledge of environmental law and impacts. They also want stiffer penalties for environmental crime perpetrators, including suspension and revocation of licences for regular offenders.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The Mutare City Council acknowledged the problem but took no action, saying the council does not have the financial resources to find alternative methods of disposing of the waste. The Council also promised to look for an alternative dump site but this is yet to be done
Sources and Materials

Environmental Management Act

Regional Town, Country and Planning Act

Natural Resources Act

Hazardous Substances and Article Act

Zimbabwe National Water Authority Acts




Jemitias Mapira, Journal of Sustainable Development in Africa (Volume 13, No.6, 2011) (attached)


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ContributorFarai Maguwu
Last update08/04/2014