GHANA – The Upper West Regional Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Mrs Zenabu Wasai-King, says bushfires have reduced soil fertility, destroyed farm produce and lowered general agricultural output thereby exposing the Region to hunger.
She said bushfires, over the years, had been identified as one of the major challenges to the socio-economic progress of the savanna ecology in which vegetation and food crops were consumed perennially by bush fires.
She said the problem did not only affect the biodiversity in the Region but depleted productivity of the soil thereby exposing the savanna region to food insecurity.
Mrs Wasai-King was speaking during the launch of the 2018/2019 Anti-Bushfire Campaign and inauguration of 215-member Bushfire Volunteer squads for the Baayiri and Kataa communities in the Upper West Region.
It was on the theme: “Our Future Depends on Sustaining the Environment, Let Us Prevent Bushfires Now”.
“Protecting the natural savanna ecology is important since most of the people’s livelihood depend on the natural environment,” she said.
“Management of bushfires is a shared responsibility, which requires our collective efforts as a people to address.”
Mrs Wasai-King urged traditional rulers to use their “respected” positions as custodians of the lands to contribute to the fight against indiscriminate bush burning.
The Upper West Regional Commander of Ghana National Fire Service, Assistant Chief Fire Officer (ACFO) Nathaniel Gaddiel Ebonyi-Amoah, said the launch of the Campaign and inauguration of the volunteer squads were in line with PNDC Law 229 of 1990.
Section Five of the Law mandates Municipal and District Assemblies to institute bushfire sub-committees to regulate the burning of vegetation.
Ebonyi-Amoah urged the volunteers to be disciplined and stand as role models in their respective communities.
Some members of the Bushfire Volunteer squads could not hide their joy when the Regional National Fire Service Team issued certificates, identity cards, safety boots and cutlasses to them.
A member of the squad, Thomas Bolenyala, said: “The training has formed part of my daily routine exercise even though it was difficult at the beginning”.
He said he used to set fires and also cut economic trees indiscriminately but the training had changed that attitude and called on other people to join the fight for economic prosperity.
Another squad member, Joyce Nicholas, said the training had empowered her to campaign against bushfires and indiscriminate cutting of trees.
The anti-bushfire campaign was graced by community members, the National Disaster Management Organisation, assembly members and anti- bushfire volunteers among others.