Ghana — Stakeholders from the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions have met in Bolgatanga to brainstorm and find lasting solutions to environmental degradation in the three northern regions.
They included officials from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), representatives from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), District Assemblies, chiefs and community elders.
The meeting enabled the stakeholders to exchange knowledge on their experiences, lessons and constraints affecting the implementation of the Ghana Environmental Project (GEMP) in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions and to map out strategies for addressing problems associated with the Project.
It also provided community members with knowledge about the GEMP to help in its implementation.
Mr Kwaku Boateng Omanhene, Upper East Regional Principal Programme Officer for Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), noted with concern that bushfires were a major factor that threatened the development of the project and that there was the need to have a behavioural change towards the maintenance of the environment.
Mr Omanhene said bushfire was caused as a result of the lack of concern of community members about the environment they lived in and that there was the need for communities to have a strong commitment to issues about the environment.
He asked community members to be proactive in the search for lasting solutions that would stem environmental degradation and for the continuation of nature.
Mr Omanhene indicated that the EPA in Upper East Region had organized community forums across the Region to sensitize the people on thematic areas of the GEMP and other environmental issues.
Mr Omanhene disclosed that the EPA had formed 20 new school environmental clubs and reactivated 10 existing ones with a membership of 2,389 to help sensitize the public on the need to protect the environment.
He indicated that the delay of funds had been a major challenge in the implementation of the GEMP project.
Mr Abu Iddrisu, Northern Regional Director of EPA, mentioned observed that soil fertility was declining in the three northern regions and attributed the trend to the abuse of the environment through bad farming practices which included bush burning.
Mr Iddrisu called on communities in the three regions to help in the implementation of GEMP because it sought to improve soil fertility and boost agricultural productivity in the area.
He said this would also ultimately address desertification, drought and reduce poverty.
Mr Iddrisu stressed on the need for traditional authorities to have keen interest in the protection of the environment and called for the enforcement of bylaws to control the rate of destruction done to the environment.
He indicated that bad hunting practices, the use of chemicals for fishing, and the burning of vegetation to prepare land for farming, among others, were contributory factors to the impoverishment of the soil and advised farmers and hunters to desist from those practices.
Mr Asher Nkegbe, Upper West Regional Director of EPA, said women were pragmatic in management and that there was the need to get them on board to help address some of the environmental problems confronting the area.
He called on the law enforcement agencies to help to enforce laws on the environment.