Ghana joined the rest of the world on Sunday to celebrate the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought (WDCDD) in the Talensi District of the Upper East Region with a call on all to invest in land to improve livelihoods.
The global event observed annually is aimed at creating awareness on the impact of desertification and to influence policy makers and major stakeholders to constantly device measures to combat it.
In Ghana, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the auspices of the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI) in collaboration with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) and other agencies observed the event each year in the three Regions of the North, namely the Upper East, Upper West and Northern Regions.
This year’s celebration had as its slogan, “Land has value, invest in it”.
The global theme for this year’s celebration is “Engage policy makers to invest in sustainable land management for sustainable livelihood” with its sub-theme as, “Upscale sustainable land management; secure our future and livelihood”.
The celebration, which attracted other stakeholders in Environment including the Forestry Commission, National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO), the Parliamentary Select Committee in Environment among others as part of the celebration, undertook a monitory exercise to three communities in the Talensi District where the Sustainable Land Water Management Project (SLWMP) was being implemented.
At the event, Mr Fredua Agyeman, the Director of Environment at the MESTI, disclosed that the 10 year SLWMP, being implemented by the EPA, MOFA and other stakeholders comprised the protection of river banks through bamboo plantation at Pwalugu along the White Volta, payment of environmental services (tree growing) at Namolgo, and compost preparation, stone bonding, enrichment plantation and other afforestation activities at Yameriga.
He said the project which was being piloted in those communities and in other 12 Districts in the three regions sought to diversify and build resilient economic zone in the north with significant regional and environmental benefits.
The Director who is also the SLWMP Coordinator said “in 2008, the Government of Ghana recognized the adverse impact of land and water degradation on the environment and livelihoods resulting from the Country Environmental Analysis (CEA) carried out by the World Bank Group that estimated Cost of Environmental Degradation in Ghana as 10 percent as at 2006 of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) while the economy grew at six percent.”
Mr Agyeman stated that the project has not only helped to protect the environment and river bodies, conserved soil nutrients for agriculture purposes, it has also provided economic benefits to the farmers and empowered them to save, which has contributed to reducing poverty, especially in the rural areas.
“The project has supported about 18,000 farmers in 211 communities, established six Community Resource Management Areas and eight forest management plans to guide the management of 72,716 hectors of reserves as well as 8,000 farmers within the project communities who are not supported yet adopted the practices on their own between 2015 and 2017.” Mr Agyeman added.
Mr Kwesi Enyan, the Board Chairman of the EPA, who promised to drill two boreholes mechanized with pumps for the Yameriga Community to boost agriculture activities in the area called on investors to support the project to scale up to cover more communities to achieve maximum success.
The Board Chairman, who indicated the government’s flagship, programmes such as the Planting for Food and Jobs, One Village One Dam fitted well into the project and said investing in it would help realize the government’s agenda of poverty reduction and meet the Sustainable Development Goals.
Mr Joseph Albert Quarm, Member of Parliament for the Manso Nkwanta Constituency in the Ashanti Region and a member of the Parliamentary select Committee on Environment asked the implementation agencies of the SLWMP to produce written documents and present to parliament for enactment of a Legislative Instrument to back their activities.