Ghana — The Upper East Deputy Regional Minister, Mrs. Lucy Awuni, has entreated Municipal and District Assemblies to liaise with traditional authorities to come out with by laws that would deal effectively with the bushfire menace and other environmental problems confronting the Region.
“Bush fire culprits, particularly those who set fires to economic tress including mango, shea trees, must be given stiffer punishment to serve as a deterrent to others”, she stressed.
Mrs Awuni made the call at a one-day sensitization workshop on the menace of Bushfires in Northern Ghana held at Bolgatanga on Thursday.
The workshop was organized by the Environmental Protection Agency on the theme “Integration of Indigenous Knowledge into Bushfire Management Practices in Northern Ghana: The Central Role of Traditional Authorities and their communities”, and was attended by chiefs drawn from various traditional areas.
The Deputy Regional Minister commended the Environmental Protection Agency for the good work it was doing in the Region to help curb environmental degradation.
She appealed to the chiefs to play a leading role in combat against bushfires and deforestation.
During the forum, the chiefs in attendance made took turns to contribute to the discussion, each one stressing the need for their involvement in the implementation of environmental laws because they lived with the people in the local communities.
The Paramount Chief of the Nakong Traditional Area, Pe Joseph Banapeh Afagachie II, who delivered a paper on, “The Central Role of the Traditional Authorities in mobilizing their Communities to control and manage bushfire in Upper East” cited charcoal production, honey harvesting, group hunting, fire festivals, activities of Fulani Headsmen, Cigarette and tobacco smoking as some of the causes of bush burning.
He called on his colleague traditional rulers to organize durbars regularly for awareness creation, engage in re-forestation, apply indigenous knowledge such sacred groves and encourage the formation of active volunteers groups to fight bush fire in their communities.
The Regional Director of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Mrs. Zenabu Wasai-King called on District Assemblies to use environmental management as one of their criteria for selecting eligible communities for development.
She noted that the environment in the Region was subjected to constant annual bush fires, improper methods of farming, over exploitation of wood, land excavation for construction and illegal mining both in the forest reserves and other areas.
The President of the Upper East Regional House of Chiefs, Pe Charles Awanpaga Awiah II who chaired the function, stressed the need for government to listen to the appeal made by the chiefs, saying that it would be useful in the efforts to curb the environmental degradation.
The purpose of the workshop was to highlight the issue of bush fires among traditional authorities with the aim of soliciting their views and ideas on mitigating the effects, challenges, opportunities and strategies for managing bushfires in their traditional areas.