The Northern Ward Council of Women will be leading a mass cleanup campaign starting next Friday at the Northern Ward to commemorate the World Wetlands Day.

The campaign aims to encourage communities surrounding Port Vila’s water source, which is part of the Matnakara Water Protection Zone, to segregate their rubbish into plastics, bottles, cans, metals and organic matter.

According to a statement to announce the cleanup, the launching will take place next Friday at Manples area opposite the Market place. After the launch, everyone present will be given a yellow plastic bag to pick up rubbish around the launch area to the Manples market, the Au Bon Marche outlet and along the streets going down towards Tagabe to end the day.

The communities of Switi, Bladinier, Wan Smol Bag, Blacksands Bridge, 21 Jump Street, Tagabe Bridge, Smet, Anglican and Huarere, Agathis and Saratakora/Saravanua, will cleanup from February 12 to 16.

Communities of the Ohlen area from Ohlen Nabanga, Ohlen 71, 72, 73, 74, 75 , Ohlen Fresh wind, Ohlen Tank, Ohlen White Wood, Ohlen Mataso and Ohlen Hole will clean their communities from February 19 to 23.

The Department of Environmental Protection and Conservation (DoEPC) will be assisting the Northern Ward Council of Women during this cleanup campaign and the removal of segregated rubbish.

World Wetlands Day is celebrated every year on February 2 every year. The day marked the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea. This year’s theme is “Wetlands and human wellbeing”.

The commemoration raises awareness and increases people’s understanding of the critical importance of wetlands. In every corner of the world, human beings have depended on wetlands for centuries, drawing sustenance, inspiration and resilience from these important environments.

The ministry responsible for environment said in the statement that “Wetlands are important for life, they are part of our everyday life through provision of water, food income. We humans cannot survive without water as it is the essence of life.

“Wetlands and people are life interlaced. Wetlands are central to our wellbeing. Whether it be through the provision of clean water, acting as the source of food or protecting us from extreme weather events, healthy wetlands equate to our wellbeing.

“Despite the numerous benefits that humans receive from wetlands, every day wetlands are damaged by human beings. Wetlands are being destroyed by unsustainable agricultural practices which are a primary cause of wetland loss through drainage and infilling.

“Many wetlands, particularly those near cities, have also been polluted by human activities and recently further degraded by plastic pollution, which exacerbates the triple planetary crisis of climate change, nature loss and pollution ultimately affecting human health.

“Current trends in human settlement also pose a major threat to the conservation and wise use of wetlands in and near growing cities. As cities grow and demand for land increases, the tendency is to encroach on wetlands and these are disappearing three times faster than forests.

“Hence, we need to stop the ongoing destruction and encourage actions to conserve and restore these vital ecosystems.

“For this year’s world wetlands day, we would like to convey a call from the Ramsar secretariat for our communities to take three actions:

• Make conscious choices to stop polluting wetlands;

• Join the global effort to conserve and sustainably manage wetlands; and

• Take part in wetland restoration efforts locally.

“In Vanuatu, villages are built along streams rivers lakes or the coast which is a proof of the dependency on wetlands, for goods and services they offer.”