Ghana — Bush fires, had been identified, as of the major threat that is likely to affect the implementation of the Ghana Environmental Management Project (GEMP), in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions.
The five year project, which is funded by the Canadian Government at the cost of 7.2 Canadian dollars, is to strengthen Ghana’s Institutions and rural communities, to reverse the land degradation trend in the Northern Regions of Ghana.
The Project, in its preliminary stage, would also help in sustainable water and land management systems, to improve food security and reduce poverty in the areas.
The Principal Programme Officer of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in the Upper East Region, Mr Frank Alormene, disclosed these, when he delivered a Paper on ” The Implementation of Ghana Environmental Management Project in the Upper East Region-Achievements so far”, at a sensitization workshop in Bolgatanga, Upper East Region.
He stated that, though some few communities in the region had been able to take care of mango seedlings that were given to them to plant; others could not take care of theirs, and allowed bushfires to destroy it.
Mr Alormene told the stakeholders that, unless the communities changed their attitudes towards the implementation of the GEMP, they would not be able to achieve the full benefit.
He wondered why some of the chiefs, who were the symbols of authority in the communities could not lead the crusade to ensure that community members did not engage in bush fires to destroy plants.
The Principal Programme Officer noted that the project, when effectively and successfully implemented, would help reverse the land degradation in the three northern regions, which was also another cause of poverty in the area.
He explained that, farmers in the area did not get the required yield of crops, and attributed this to the degradation of the land by the people.
Mr Alormene said the bush fires were also a major cause of land degradation, since the fire destroys some organisms in the soil, rendering it unfertile.
He said under the project, 30 communities in the Upper East Region had been selected and would be provided with capacity building, to take on activities such as tree planting, awareness creation, alternative livelihood, among others.
Mr Alormene said they would also be taught how to write proposals to access funding from the project to undertake their activities and create alternative livelihoods.
He noted that the project would focus on seven thematic areas, including, Land Use and Soil Management, Management of Vegetation Cover, Wild Life and Biodiversity Management, Water Resources Management, Rural Infrastructure Development, Resource and Energy Management and improvement of Socio Economic and Poverty Reduction.
The Upper East Deputy Regional Minister, Mrs. Lucy Awine urged Municipal and District Assemblies to show interest in the project, by giving their support adding that, she would monitor its implementation.
She said the project would change the mindset of the people about the environment, especially, bush burning and also help improve the lives of the people in the Region.
Participants, who were drawn from the Regional Environmental Committees (REMCs), District Environmental Committees (DEMCs) and Community Environmental Committees (CEMs) among others, underscored the need to prioritize the prevention of fire in the project areas.
He said traditional rulers, who were the custodians of the communities, must act as principal actors; by leading the crusade to ensure the project achieves its objectives.