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Hypertrophication Awareness

Community gardens are a proudly Swazi initiative wherein many communities around the country put concerted efforts into growing and maintaining vegetable gardens to feed orphaned children, the elderly and other people who are otherwise unable to provide for themselves. It is therefore important that the gardens continue to enjoy perpetual success, which success depends on sustainable and environmentally sound methods of farming.

Since an overwhelmingly vast majority of the country is rural without running tap water, the community gardens are strategically positioned near water sources such as rivers and dams. Beneficial as it might be to have the water gardens next to water sources, the use of certain fertilisers in cultivating crops may pose a threat of hypertrophication.

The excessive use of nitrogenous and phosphate fertilisers makes significant contributions to this problem, in that the naturally present algae in the water source expands exponentially once high volumes of nitrates and phosphorus are deposited therein.

The consequences of hypertrophication are far reaching and wide. Besides turning the water source colour into green, the algae competes with marine life for oxygen which fish and other aquatic animals need for survival. If such a water source is also used for drinking water, the quality of such water is reduced below what can be considered drinkable water for humans or animals.

There is an opportunity for the government to prevent hypertrophication where it has not happened, and to limit its effects where it is currently happening.

There are two approaches that the government can take to address the problem. It can either make water accessible through setting up the necessary infrastructure such as water pipes, irrigation equipment and water taps. Alternatively, the government can elect to fund the use of less harmful fertilisers. The latter option is the least desirable because it would be quite difficult to find fertilisers which presents less serious problems, even natural fertilisers deposited into a drinking water source may present health problems.

The continued success of the community gardens must be protected jealously by the government, but to do so it must be recognised that a well rounded approach is required. Hence the farming methods used must be such that the quality of the land, water and general integrity of the environment in which the gardens are situated must also be preserved.

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