Wechiau, (U/W), June 19, GNA – The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the World Bank have voted $17 million to assist Ghana to combat desertification and drought.
Half of the amount which is $8.5 million came from CIDA while the remaining half came from the World Bank.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would be given $2.5 million to carry out its environmental protection activities while another $5.0 million would be pushed into the national fight against desertification project.
Ms Sherry Ayitey, Minister of Environment, Science and Technology made this known at a durbar to mark the 2011 World Desertification Day Celebration held at Wechiau in the Wa West District of the Upper West Region.
The occasion was on the global theme: “Forest Keep Dry lands Working.”
Personnel from the EPA in collaboration with CIDA, Regional Co-ordinating Council and the Wa West District Assembly planting a total of 10,000 seedlings comprising mahogany, moringa, cashew and mango seedlings along the banks of river Volta.
Ms Ayitey noted that forest and dry lands were the focus of the 2011 World Day to Combat Desertification, stressing that the Upper West, Upper East and Northern Regions Constituted the dry land areas and the most seriously affected desertification prone areas in Ghana.
She said dry land and forest resources have great socio-economic and ecological importance to the survival and well being of the people especially in the three Northern Regions.
She said promoting ways to use forest biodiversity in a sustainable way with clear solid and economic benefits for the poor was the purpose for which the forest must be preserved.
The Science and Environment Minister said forest particularly in the Agriculture and Forestry sectors was responsible for about 40 per cent of the world’s economy.
She said 70 per cent of the world’s poor living in rural areas depended directly on the forest for their survival.
In addition, about 350 million people depended on forest for their income while about 1.2 billion people relied on agro-forestry farming systems, according to a 2004 World Bank report.
According to Ms Ayitey human factors such as poverty, population growth, poor economic performance, declining standard of livelihoods of farming communities and close dependence of forest and woodlands hindered the realization of the full potentials and benefits of dry land and forest resources.
She therefore urged the people to plant trees and nursed them to keep dry lands forested for posterity.
Ms Ayitey noted that Ghana as a signatory to the United Nations Convention to combat Desertification and Drought made it mandatory for Government to find practical steps in halting desertification in the affected areas in Ghana.
She said Ghana had finalised a Sustainable Land Management Investment Framework under the auspices of the World Bank, the Food and Agriculture Organisation and TerrAfrica.
She thanked CIDA for strengthening the capacity of EPA to facilitate,
co-ordinate and monitor the implementation of the National Action Programme (NAP) on combating drought and desertification through the Ghana Environmental Management Project.
The Minister said Ghana and the Global Environmental Facility of the World Bank and some other donors have jointly prepared the Ghana Sustainable Land and Water Management Project, which presented a comprehensive approach to sustainable land and watershed management in the country.
The project development objective, she noted, was to improve land management of selected micro-watersheds in Northern Ghana to reverse land degradation and enhanced Agricultural productivity.
It would also improve on spatial planning through integration of watershed management in development plans.
Alhaji Issahaku Salia, Upper West Regional Minister said the threat of desertification was gradually eroding the basis of the ecosystem in the North.
He said this was evident by the diminishing vegetative cover, land degradation, erratic rainfall pattern, increasing aridity of air and soil, drying up of water bodies including the threat of drying up of the Black Volta River during the dry season.
Alhaji Salia associated the cause of desertification in the Region to the persistent burning of the bush, unsustainable farming practices, indiscriminate fuel wood harvesting and overgrazing among other things.
Mr Daniel Amlalo, Acting Executive Director of EPA said over the past three decades the average temperature had increased by 0.9 degree Celsius, slightly below the national trend of one degree Celsius with total rainfall increasing by 14.2 per cent in the Wa environs.
He however noted that higher associated rates of evaporation had brought about dry conditions especially in dry land ecozones.
Mr Amlalo said the EPA had constituted District Environmental Management Committees made up of Assembly members and relevant environmentally decentralised departments and NGOs to assist in the formulation of policies and by laws to protect the environment.
Mr Jonathan Wheatcroft, a Deputy Director of CIDA called on all stakeholders to play their roles effectively by implanting proper mechanisms to combat desertification.