Sister cities Haarlem and Mutare keeping their rivers clean Healthy Rivers Campaign

Sister cities Haarlem and Mutare keeping their rivers clean

Healthy Rivers Campaign

17 April 2023 from 20.00 – 21.30 in De Pletterij

In recent months a number of organisations in Haarlem and its sister city Mutare (Zimbabwe) have been working to make our respective rivers, the Spaarne and Sakubva, cleaner and healthier. With joint campaign actions we aim to accelerate this in the coming years by carrying out joint cleaning activities and by inspiring water boards and municipalities in both cities to adopt better water policies.

The story

Haarlem and Mutare have been ‘’twin towns’’ for more than 30 years, joined under the (in Netherlands named) Stedenband Haarlem-Mutare (City Link Haarlem-Mutare). Although we are far apart geographically, we have many similarities. One is that both cities are fortunate enough to be situated on a river.

The rivers of Mutare originate in the beautiful mountain range that forms the northern border of the city. These rivers start out as fresh potable-water streams and wind their way through Mutare, eventually converging into the Sakubva River. These waterways are an important lifeline for the population of Mutare, but also for the many other non-human river inhabitants, such as many species of river plants, birds, mice, moles, mongooses and other small mammals, insects, frogs, fish and fungi.

A citizens’ group – the Mutare Rivers Rehabilitation Initiative (MRRI) – is committed to protecting and cleaning up the river and every week spends time clearing up the banks. Stedenband Haarlem-Mutare supports this initiative and the Mutare municipality in developing a sustainable water policy.

Our river Spaarne flows through Haarlem. As in Mutare, this river is of vital importance for the biodiversity of nature and for the well-being of all residents. Haarlemmers are increasingly aware that the river must be kept healthy to keep the city viable. Groups of Haarlem citizens are active in protecting the river environment and removing plastic from the water. In the Netherland we have water boards that monitor environmental quality, but all initiatives by citizens to keep the river healthy for everyone are welcome and important.

On March 18 2023 a National Cleaning Day was held in throughout the Netherland. In Haarlem we participated by rolling up our sleeves and working together on a joint river-cleaning mission. Local organisations such as the IVN, the Trekvogels Canoe Association, scouting group Kontiki, SUPmission Haarlem, de Penguin, Stedenband Haarlem-Mutare and de Bermbende , alongside many volunteers, successfully worked together to make the Spaarne river a lot cleaner.

We are now holding a follow-up ‘inspiration’ meeting to discuss this and future activities planned for the coming months.

Speakers include: Lynne James- MRRI (Mutare), Karen Blanken- SUPmission, Lavinia Warners- Bermbende, Sjoerd Andela- urban ecologist Haarlem, Bernou Boven- Plastic Soup Foundation, representative the Water Board Rijnland and Marin van Wetering- The Great Bubble Barrier

Moderator: Sander van Weert. Admission is free but advance registration via the website is appreciated:

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