Justification of an Environmental Impact Assessment in Zimbabwe

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February 16, 2019
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February 19, 2019
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Justification of an Environmental Impact Assessment in Zimbabwe

According to Wikipedia, The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Environmental is the assessment of the environmental consequences (positive and negative) of a plan, policy, program, or actual projects prior to the decision to move forward with the proposed action. In this context, the term “environmental impact assessment” (EIA) is usually used when applied to actual projects by individuals or companies and the term “strategic environmental assessment” (SEA) applies to policies, plans and programmes most often proposed by organs of state.Environmental assessments may be governed by rules of administrative procedure regarding public participation and documentation of decision making, and may be subject to judicial review.

Figure 1: Plastic Dump in Zimbabwe

In Zimbabwe, the Environmental Management Act defines an Environmental Impact assessment as ‘an evaluation of a project to determine its impact on the environment and human health and to set out the required environmental monitoring and management procedures and plans’.  The EIA is thus a tool that enhances sustainable development where environmental, economic and social pillars are mainstreamed in the project in a balanced manner.

Purpose of an Environmental Impact Assessment

  • To determine the potential and known effects of proposed projects on the cultural, social, economic and ecological health of an area affected and put in place measures to avoid negative impacts while enhancing the positive ones.
  • To ensure that adequate environmental information is available to decision makers,
  • Identification of cultural, social, economic and ecological monitoring and management requirements during construction , operation & decommissioning,
  • To improve public participation in government decisions by involving the public at all stages of the EIA.

Benefits of an Environmental Impact Assessment

  • Increased accountability and transparency during the development process.
  • Reduced environmental damage as measures are already put in place before a project starts.
  • Increased project acceptance by the public- communities as they are involved in the process
  • Better environmental planning and design of a proposal. Carrying out an EIA entails an analysis of alternatives in the design and location of projects.
  • A well-designed project can minimize risks and impacts on the environment and people, and thereby avoid associated costs of remedial treatment or compensation for damage.
  • It fosters mutual understanding between organizations, proponents and the people affected by the development. It provides the proponent with more realistic and objective information about the constraints placed on it by authorities.
  • Savings in capital and operating costs. EIA can avoid the undue costs of unanticipated impacts. These can escalate if environmental problems have not been considered from the start of proposal design and require rectification later.

In Zimbabwe, the projects that need Environmental Impact Assessments are listed in the first Schedule of the Environmental Management Act (Cap 20:27) and they include mining, quarrying, housing developments and ore processing, among others. The EIA is based on the “precautionary principle” a process which directs project studies and addresses environmental impacts before they occur. EIA is a tool to achieve the desired balance between development and environmental protection.

 

To learn more on how we can help you with an Environmental Impact Assessment, feel free to contact us.

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