A National Wetlands Portal for Zimbabwe

Through its Environmental Management Agency (EMA), Zimbabwe has managed to come up with a National Wetlands portal which is aimed at providing land developers, planners and the public with all relevant information pertaining to the subject.

This came as a declaration by the Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality after issuing a public notice in the countries national newspaper stating all land that had been designated as Wetlands in the country (Harare especially).

Zimbabwe has been experiencing very disturbing issues that are associated with land. Land barons have been taking advantage on the lack of knowledge from the public and selling off unauthorized land to the citizens. Over the months the city councils and the government have been on a property demolishing campaign in efforts to preserve these wetlands.

This wetlands portal will serve as a basis and foundation for the general public to avoid any future disappointments and also build the knowledge capacity.

Kudos to the Agency which was since collaborated with the National Space Agency (ZINGSA) to conduct this exercise thoroughly and implementing all technology relevant for the cause.

The most interesting thing I noticed and which also came as shock is how the portal offers to provide the datasets used in the exercise to anyone who needs them. Could this be a step closer to Open-Data initiatives in Zimbabwe?

The platform provides a reference link to get in touch with the Wetlands team in order to get these datasets but the reference link seems to go nowhere. Perhaps the developer forgot to place an email or request form?

Above all, the initiative is great and commendable but there is still room for improvement on the platform. Some possible improvements could be any of the following:

  • for an open-data initiative, it would be best to provide a login authentication system where people request for the datasets they need. In this case the wetlands areas in Zimbabwe.
  • the open source QGIS plugin (QGIS2Web) used to create the interactive web map is really great but somehow the interactiveness seems to be dragging and can only be accessed properly on desktop. Perhaps with time ArcGIS Online webmaps could offer a better interactive solution?

Less people having their property destroyed for occupying wetlands is my greatest hope. Hopefully the Zimbabwean community will embrace the new stunt fully.

Follow the link to access the Wetlands platform: http://wetlands.ema.co.zw:8099/EmaWetlands/

About the Author

surveyorjr

Kumbirai is a 4th year Surveying & Geomatics students at the Midlands State University in Zimbabwe. He is also the Founder and Team Lead at African Surveyors Connect. He enjoys spending time writing web-applications and is more of a GIS enthusiast who mainly focuses and grew interests in Health and Land Administrative Applications of Geographic Systems.

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