Ghana — It is widely held that when natural resources management frameworks make room for the inclusion of sub-national governance structures, they are most likely to be effective in that they result in the maximisation of resource benefits.
It is with this understanding that the Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) is being implemented to build the capacities of district assemblies, area councils and communities to master environmental management.
The CBNRM, which is one of five components of the Community-Based Rural Development Project (CBRDP), supports district assemblies and communities to prepare integrated natural resource management plans for rehabilitating and protecting land and water resources, as well as, other natural resources that are vital to the livelihoods of rural communities and their inhabitants.
To ensure the success of the CBNRM component, a total of 138 Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) have been sensitised on the goals, objectives and strategies of CBNRM. In addition, CBRDP has trained 378 personnel of 18 district assemblies in participatory techniques in resource management planning, monitoring and conflict management. This has in turn enabled district teams to facilitate the preparation of CBNRM action plans for 152 communities in five degraded watershed areas. There are also CBNRM action plans for 71 communities in community initiated eco-tourism areas.
Nana Tutu Aban II, Chief of Breman Kokoso in the Central Region, and Nana Komla Dehyie, Chief of Likpe Todome in the Volta Region, both overseers two of the areas in the country with high incidence of bushfires, attest to the effectiveness of the CBNRM. The project, as they have rightly observed, has resulted in a drastic reduction in cases of bush fires in their communities.
Before delving into the achievements of the CBNRM, it is imperative to examine the CBRDP, which is the mother project.
What is the CBRDP?
The CBRDP is a repeater of the Village Infrastructure Project (VIP). It was introduced in 2004 by the Government of Ghana as part of its poverty reduction strategy on the principles of community involvement, self-help and sustainability of gains.
The CBRDP aims at using rural community participation to reduce rural poverty and to build capacity for effective local government administration. In other words, it aims at contributing to the overall empowerment of rural populations to actively participate in issues that affect their daily lives.
It is targeted at Regional Coordinating Councils, District Assemblies, Area Councils and rural communities, with the active participation of traditional leaders. It also seeks to promote collaboration among these target groups as part of general efforts to enhance the decentralisation process.
The Project, estimated to cost US$ 85 million when completed, is co-financed by the Government of Ghana and the World Bank with support from Agence Francias de Development (AFD) of France. District Assemblies and rural beneficiaries also contribute their quota to specific projects where needed.
The ten regions of the country have been grouped into four zones to facilitate the execution of projects under the CBRDP. Zone One comprises the Northern, Upper West and Upper East Regions while Ashanti and Brong-Ahafo regions have been put together in Zone Two. Zone Three joins the Western and Central Regions and Zone Four consists of Eastern, Volta and Greater Accra Regions.
Achievements under the CBNRM There is a tall list of achievements enumerated by a document put together by the CBRDP’s implementers under the title Achievements and Impact of the Community-Based Rural Development Project (CBRDP).
For instance, the document speaks about the excitement of the project executers about a significant reduction of bush fires in CBNRM beneficiary communities such as Breman Kokoso and Likpe Todome. “What is more rewarding is that the people have widely embraced the reforestation project to the extent that the demand for seedlings for planting is now more than what CBRDP is able to supply.”
In all, 504 individuals from 42 community fire volunteer groups in five pilot watershed areas have benefitted from hands-on training in bushfire control and management. In consonance with the objective of the training programme, the beneficiaries have been equipped with knowledge and skills to control and manage bush fires. And beneficiary communities have been supplied with nursery and fire fighting tools and materials worth GHc140,000. This is additional to the establishment of approximately 2.5 kilometres of fire belts and breaks, which are already helping communities to control bush fires.
So far, 22 community tree nurseries, each an acre in size, have been established/rehabilitated. Each nursery is expected to raise 50,000 seedlings annually for distribution. To date, the nurseries have produced 144,000 seedlings of various multi-purpose woody species of medicinal and commercial trees for distribution to beneficiary communities and individuals for reforestation, plantation establishment and planting along river/stream banks for the protection of water bodies.
For instance, many trees have been planted around the Okyi Nakwa Watershed area in the Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa District in the Central Region to protect the River.
In the Jirapa/Lambussie District of the Upper West Region, 31 communities and traditional leaders in the Piina Watershed area have been sensitized about the CBNRM. Community Environmental Management Committees have been formed and inaugurated in all 25 communities in the areas. Again, School Environmental Committees were formed in 25 basic schools within the Piina Watershed area.
“Already, 160 hectares of sacred groves and community forests have been placed under protection,” said the document titled Achievements and Impact of the Community-Based Rural Development Project (CBRDP).
The CBNRM also involves the improvement of ecotourism in rural communities. There has been identification and rehabilitation of tourism centres located in rural communities with the hope of enhancing their attractiveness. This is meant to diversify and boost the economy of the beneficiary communities.
At Likpe Todome, for example, trails leading to the mythical ancestral caves have been constructed to make it easier for tourists to visit the caves. The caves are believed to be the ancestral homes of the people of Likpe Todome. In addition, a Tourism Reception Centre has been built to coordinate all tourism activities in the town. It is to receive all visitors and give them an acceptable experience. The facility replaces a dilapidated mud tourism reception centre.