Curbing desertification through the greening Northern Ghana project
Scientific research conducted by many Scientists has proven beyond reasonable doubt that trees play major role to the survival of mankind. For instance, it had been scientifically confirmed that apart from trees providing shades, carbon sequestration, protection of erosions and water bodies, the 20,000 litres of oxygen that are needed in a day for an adult to be able survive is produced by trees.
Besides the above, research had also established that forty percent of the medicines produced in Ghana are also derived from plants in addition to the fact that trees also moderate the rainfall patterns in the country.
It was not therefore for nothing that God in His own wisdom after the creation of mankind and the earth established the garden of Eden and entrusted it into the hands of mankind to take good care of it and to reap the essential benefit of it.
To quote from Genesis Chapter 1: 29 “God said, Behold, I have given you every herb blessing seeds, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; , to you it shall be foe meat “, the Almighty told Adam.
But as time went on, mankind decided to disobey God and this was passed on from the older generations to the current generation. In Ghana, the five regions of the North which include, the Northern, Upper East, Upper West, the North East and the Savannah Regions are the most affected regions in the country when it comes to desertification and environmental degradation.
Human-induced factors such as cutting down of trees indiscriminately for charcoal production, wildfires, overgrazing, overpopulation, mining have been cited among others as the main causes of land degradation leading to the threat of desertification.
This scenario had not only led to low rainfall patterns in these areas, but had also led to food insecurity, climate change, famine and poverty. It had also increased the temperature levels of these affected zones and making most water bodies in the area often dry up early.
Viewing the negative impact of desertification in the above-mentioned regions, the Government of Ghana sought the assistance from the Global Environmental Facility through the World Bank to implement a Project dubbed” the Sustainable Land and Water Management(SLWMP)”
Among some of the interventions of the SLWMP are the empowerment of communities in the Northern sector to establish fire belts to prevent wildfires, creation of natural regeneration sites, growing of bamboos along river banks, tree planting using the payment for environmental services concept, improved rangeland management , beekeeping , awareness creation on the need to stop cutting down of trees discriminately for charcoal production, the establishment of Community Resources Management Area (CREMA) etc. There is also, the concept of enhancing the financial independence of women using the Village Saving and Loans Associations (VSLA).
Although these interventions are contributing significantly to the reduction of desertification in communities implementing the project, there is the need for more to be done to fast-track in curbing desertification in the regions.
It is on this note that this writer deemed it appropriate to commend the personalities behind the formation of a new Voluntary based NGO dubbed “Greening Northern Ghana (GNG)Project “ which was launched in Bolgatanga, the regional capital of the Upper East Region early this year(2019).
The new NGO which had a composition of members drawn up from the five regions of the north is to receive technical support in addition with a seedling from the Forestry Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency to plant trees in all the above-mentioned regions.
The exercise which is being championed by the National Coordinator of the GNG project, Mr Charles Mambuliya, the National Chairman of the GNG, Alhaji Abdallah OtitoAchuliwor, the former Upper East Regional Minister, Mr Boniface Gambila, Professor David Miller and Professor SaaDitor both former Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University for Development Studies (UDS), Professor Helina Yita had both tree and grass planting components . District Chief Executives (DCEs) including Mrs. Agnes Anamoo, the DCE for Nabdam are all involved in the project.
The GNG project which had also formed clubs made up different professionals are to also target students of the first and second cycle institutions including the tertiary levels in all the above five mentioned regions to ensure that they participated in the exercise.
Launching the new project in early March this year at the Jubilee Park in the region, the Upper East Regional Minister, Ms Paulina Patience Abayage, who commended the group for forming the GNG Project, noted that the project had come at the right time.
The Regional Minister stated that the GNG Project would complement the SLWM project being implemented by the EPA in collaboration with the Forestry Commission to help speed up the curbing of desertification of the five regions of the north.
The National Chairman of the GNG, Alhaji Abdallah Otito Achuliwor, stated that one of the major challenges facing the basket weavers in the region was how to get access to straw for weaving, compelling many of them to travel as far as the southern parts of the country to buy the raw materials to enable them weave.
The National Chairman who expressed the hope that the growing of the grass component of the Project would help address such challenges and to also enable the basket weavers to maximize profits stated that the GNG project was a registered voluntary Non –Governmental Organization operating in the five regions of the north.
The National Coordinator of the GNG project, Mr Charles Mambuliya, who is one of the brain the formation of the project said he discovered that most of the streams and rivers in the five regions of the north were all drying up, making it difficult for animals to get water to drink and that informed the decision to get others involved to kick start the project.
The Regional Director of the EPA, Mr Asher Nkegbe, indicated that for the start, his outfit in collaboration with the Forestry Service Commission would collaborate with the NGO to transplant thousands of seedlings in this coming rainy season in the SLWMP communities in Northern Ghana. The Agency will also solicit the support of the NGO in her effort of greening the Tongo hills. The Director indicated that the Agency will also provide the list of the various communities benefitting from the SLWMP to the NGO for effective monitoring.
He entreated other organizations in Northern Ghana including traditional and religious leaders to join the crusade in fighting desertification to make life more comfortable.
In conclusion whilst one joins hands with the Regional Minister and other stakeholders to commend the members of the GNGProject especially the Executives, it is hoped that their dream of complementing Government’s effort at curbing desertification in the five regions would not be a nine-day wonder. There is also the urgent need for all stakeholders including communities, institutions, individuals and the corporate bodies to support in the fight against desertification. Traditional and Religious leaders, as well as the Media, must get involved in planting and growing more trees and educating the communities to desist from negative activities that lead to environmental degradation and desertification.