The fountains at Africa Unity Square are set to undergo a major renovation programme, courtesy of a diverse group of partners spearheaded by the Italian Embassy, in conjunction with the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Embassy of Sweden, the European Union, UNESCO and UNICEF, along with local partners, City of Harare, Miracle Missions, Meikles Hotel and Meikles Foundation, BirdLife Zimbabwe and the Harare Wetlands Trust, Mukuvisi Woodlands, Discovereum Children’s Museum and EnviroExperts-Africa. The necessary authorisations are being sought as we go to print.
The central circular fountain was established in 1950 as part of the city’s diamond jubilee celebrations, and the additional long rectangular ponds with saucer shaped fountains were added in 1971. Due to an ongoing lack of water and little or no budget for maintenance the fountains have been empty and not functioning for many years. The ponds have become filled up with litter and following the recent rains with stagnant water, becoming unattractive as well as posing a health and safety risk.
The whole water reticulation and pumping system has deteriorated to the point where it is no longer practical to repair or restore it. In addition the maintenance and running costs for the fountains could not be easily accommodated in the City’s annual budgets. It also seems wasteful and extravagant to pump thousands of litres of water around every day for no practical reason, especially in view of the City’s on-going water crisis.
The exciting new proposal will include creating a kind of art gallery within the central circular section. This section will be completely drained and a group of prominent Zimbabwean visual artists will install paintings and mosaic directly onto the walls. The work is expected to be done in May this year.
The two long rectangular pools will be converted into water-wise gardens featuring low maintenance aloes, succulents and indigenous plants. These two garden sections will be low maintenance and easily managed, as well being attractive and illustrating the principals of sound, water-wise policies.
Italian Ambassador Enrico De Agostini said, “Africa Unity Square is an ideal location. I am sure that through Wet-(L)and-Dry we will contribute to making the City of Harare even more beautiful, while reminding passers-by of the importance of conserving water.”
The project was launched on 22 March (in celebration of World Water Day) at Town House as part of a two-pronged programme. Apart from the refurbishment of the fountains the other section of the initiative is a Primary and Secondary Schools competition. This was launched on 24 March at Kuimba Shiri at Lake Chivero, during the World Water Day Eco-schools Programme. Primary Schools have been invited to submit an illustrated story relating to water conservation and Secondary Schools have been asked to explore practical projects for good water management in their schools or communities. The top three winners in each category will be announced at a prize giving ceremony scheduled to be held in early June.
The Wet-(L)and-Dry Project is the fourth in a series of initiatives entitled “AMBIENTE” which the Italian Embassy has promoted to raise awareness about the vital importance of environmental conservation, combining cultural and artistic programmes and at the same time raising funds for worthy causes. Money raised so far during these programmes has been donated to the National Gallery of Zimbabwe to assist with the upkeep of their permanent collection. Ambassador De Agostini firmly believes that art and culture are a universal language that can be used to cross boundaries and promote discussions about global issues like water and environmental conservation.