Certain projects in Zimbabwe are not permitted to commence without first obtaining an environmental impact assessment report. Environmental impact assessment is a comprehensive assessment of the potential environmental, social, and economic consequences of a proposed project. The Environmental Management Act and SI 7 OF 2007 (Environmental Impact Assessment and Ecosystems Protection) are the legislative regulations that govern EIAs. They require specified projects listed in the first schedule of the EMA Act to complete an EIA process before to execution.

The EIA is a tool used to define, quantify, and evaluate the possible and known consequences of human activities on ecosystems at the earliest stage of project development in Zimbabwe. It is a technical and administrative practice with the goal of identifying potential environmental impacts and preventing environmental degradation caused by human activities. The EIA's goal is to identify potential environmental impacts of human activities so that they might be avoided or reduced. It also raises public awareness about the negative consequences of non-sustainable industrial techniques on the environment.

The projects listed in the First Schedule are projects which must not be implemented without obtaining an EIA. These projects include dams and lakes, drainage and irrigation, forestry, housing developments, industry, infrastructure, mining and quarrying, petroleum production, power generation and transmission, tourist resorts and recreational developments, waste treatment and disposal.  Many housing developments do not have EIAs report and this creates an anomaly which may cause destructions thereof

The EIA fosters mutual understanding between organizations, proponents and the people affected by the development. It provides the proponent with more realistic and objective information about the constraints placed on it by authorities. According to the Act, a person who knowingly implements any of the project mentioned above without obtaining an environmental impact assessment report shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years or to both such fine and such imprisonment. further, the person who knowingly implements a project without the EIA shall either be ordered to mitigate the effects of any adverse environmental impact or in instances where it is not possible to mitigate any adverse environmental impact, the person the person may be ordered to destroy any works undertaken in connection with the projects.

In conclusion therefore, it is mandatory in Zimbabwe for any person who wants to carry out a certain project such as those listed in the First Schedule of the EMA Act to obtain an EIA report before commencing project. Failure to obtain an EIA report has dire consequences as it may result in total destruction of the project altogether followed by loss of huge investments.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.