Ghana — The number of fire outbreaks recorded in the Upper West Region has decreased from 117 in 2009 to 93 in 2010. Estimated cost of damage to properties stood at GH¢1,942,213.00 and GH¢4,633.00 respectively. Fifty bush fires were recorded in 2009 while in 2010 bush fires accounted for only 19 of fires recorded during that year. Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Mr Joseph Kwesi Ahinsah, the Regional Fire Officer, said this during the Regional Launch of the Anti Bush Fire Campaign at Jogna in the Wa Municipality. He said the idea behind the launching of the Anti Bush Fire Campaign was to help reduce the rapid burning of the bush, protect lives and farms to enhance the economic development of the region. He said the disadvantages of bush burning were the decline in soil fertility, desertification, loss of lives and properties as well as the destruction of economic and medicinal trees such as odum, mango, dawadawa and shea trees among others. Mr Ahinsah mentioned the activities of farmers, herdsmen, hunters, smokers and honey tapers as some of the major factors causing bush burning in the region.
He said to ensure that the Anti Bush Fire Campaign became a success, the District Assemblies and Traditional Authorities must support the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) by way of strictly enforcing the bye-laws against bush burning.
He said the three major ways to combat bush fires was to embark on a massive public education campaign, encourage people to practice improved agricultural practices and enforcement of bush fire laws. Mr Ahinsah said this year the Wa Municipal Rural Fire Department had been able to train 45 fire volunteers at Jonga. He called for more support from the Regional Coordinating Council, the District Assemblies and effective collaboration between NADMO, Environmental Protection Agency, Forestry, Water and Electricity Companies, NGOs, Chiefs and Religious leaders. Alhaji Issahaku Salia, the Upper West Regional Minister in a speech read on his behalf, appealed to Assembly members to make it a duty to fight bush burning by spearheading the enforcement of bye-laws on bush burning in their areas.
The Regional Minister suggested that awards should be given to communities that performed well in the prevention of bush fires to encourage more communities to wage war against bush burning. Mr Yakubu Duogu, the Municipal Chief Executive in a speech read on his behalf, appealed to the GNFS to extend the campaign to all the other districts to help save the environment. Awards were given to six communities for their efforts in the prevention of bush fires in their communities. These communities are Jonga, Babile Tanchara, Nandom Koo, Fian, Kendie and Suntaanutaa Agro Forestry.