Zimbabwe receives firefighting equipment from Belarus to combat forest fires

Feu de brousse allumé pour la culture sur brûlis au Zimbabwe. (Photo by Michel HUET/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Efforts to tackle forest fires in Zimbabwe received a boost after Belarus donated firefighting equipment to the administration of President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Zimbabwe is plagued by forest fires with close to 90 percent of such fires being the result of arson, land clearing, illegal mining, smoking out bees, poaching, burning of waste, firebreak construction or carelessly discarded cigarette butts, according to the Environmental Management Agency (EMA).

Natural causes account for only a small percentage of fires.

Mnangagwa expressed his gratitude to the European nation for the gesture which he said will help tackle an “existential threat” to the southern African nation’s wildlife, landscape, and way of life.

FILE PHOTO: A bush fire in Zimbabwe. (Photo by Michel HUET/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

“I am eternally grateful for the firefighting equipment given to Zimbabwe by Belarus,” Mnangagwa said on Saturday.

“This equipment will enable Zimbabwe to fight back the forest fires that ravage our nation.”

An official from the UN Food and Agricultural Organization recently warned Zimbabwe must take wide-ranging steps to raise public awareness on desertification and land degradation to help combat desertification and the effects of drought.

Last year, the EMA said Zimbabwe reported more than 1,000 wild fires spreading over one million hectares of both arable land and forest cover.

The Forestry Commission estimates that Zimbabwe loses more than 330,000 hectares of forests through forest fires and deforestation annually.

(Story compiled with assistance from wire reports)

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