A GNA Feature by Fatima Anafu-Astanga
Bolgatanga (UE) Jan. 31, GNA- The role of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in the realisation of national development goals in Ghana is critical especially in attaining the Sustainable Development Goal on environment.
In realising the fact that government alone cannot do all, the involvement of the private sector and civil society is key in achieving the goals.
The organisations have lived and worked based on experience and belief in the fact that working together to achieve goals wasbetter. Many attest to this and the fact that some governmental interventions and policies remain incomplete and unaccomplished without partnership from the civil society.
CSOs are a group of people that operate in the community, in a way that is distinct from both government and business.
However, their operations are not in isolation, since their interventions piggybacks the efforts of government and by so doing, they use innovations in thought and strategy to catalyse joint actions at all levels.
Many CSOs on environment and natural resource management have played very key roles in pushing for protections and sustainable management of the natural resources among others.
Meanwhile in the efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 15, which enshrines all to protect, restore and provide sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss, Ghana still need such collaborative minds to break the grounds.
Progress reports of the SDGs of 2018 on goal 15, indicate that the earth’s forest areas continue to shrink, down from 4.1 billion hectares in 2000 (or 31.2 per cent of total land area) to about 4 billion hectares (30.7 per cent of total land area) in 2015.
The rate of forest loss though cut by 25 per cent since 2000–2005, the challenge to continuously work to cut down further remain a challenge to all.
One significant intervention is the catalytic roles of CSOs to push for stronger collaboration in the area of promoting energy and Improved Cook Stoves (ICS) as a way of protecting the environment from total abuse and reducing health effects from use of charcoal and fuel wood burning both for domestic and commercial cooking.
The Journey of advocacy
SNV a Dutch Non- Governmental Organisation working in partnership with other local partners focusing on improving agricultural productivity, nutrition, sanitation and energy is one of such working for adoption of improved cooking systems in Ghana to address health impacts and push for sustainable use of the environment.
Mr Dramani Bukari, Energy Advisor at SNV speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, acknowledged that his outfit’s contribution was not to gain fame, but work towards the process to achieve the adopting for clean cooking which he noted was showing good signs of exposing the issues.
He explained that advocacy was a process and to achieve this, the process of campaigning, causing people to listen and helping all to adopt clean cooking was key and yielding some results.
“The interest shown by government and relevant sectors in the advocacy process and the emerging interest for people to have an option for adoption of clean cooking systems is picking up very well”. The energy advisor added.
According to him, one intervention worthy of praise is government’s plan to access 10million dollar funding from the Korean government to supply 500,000 ICS for distribution in 2019 free of charge and noted that it will activate the market for others to see the products and use them.
Suggestions for consideration
Mr Dramani urged that though the distribution of the ICS will be for free, government needs to consider the use of existing local manufacturers who could as a way be capitalised or provided with subsidy and this he added is a way to help them to continue the business in the value chain.
“Government should provide them the technical efficiency standards so that the local manufacturers can track the line of distribution”.
He stressed that importing stoves and using District Assemblies or other structures for distribution will not help to sustain the process and also means that government will have to look for more funding to do same again.
”When manufacturers are capitalised, it will enhance the distribution channels and build the ICS value chain”.
Mr Bukari was however thankful that the journey of advocacy was rewarding in raising the awareness with regards to using clean cooking systems, in five districts in Ghana specifically in Sogakope, Amasaman, Paga, Navrongo and Ejisu which made some strides in achieving successes in the adoption process.
Other partners have observed the high interest shown in ICS through community sensitisation programmes through radio discussions, community meetings among others and people’s readiness to move from current use of charcoal and fuel wood to ICS.
However, the worry from communities was how government would support their sensitisation efforts to make communities get access to information, and for ICS entrepreneurs to get contracts and improve service provision for the communities.
Mr Julius Awearegya, Director of Organisation for Indigenous Initiatives and Sustainability (ORGIIS) indicate that through the expectation is also “to involve MMDAs to improve policies of government on environment process in making budget allocations for the sector, has been very slow.
According to him, the continuous identification of community health workers and community ‘champions’ to champion the advocacy process has been helpful especially in communities for adaptation and usage of ICS.
As part of the lessons learned, the director noted that more work is needed in training local artisans to repair and maintain ICS equipment and provide needed services to the patrons of ICS.
He called for support including; subsidies of ICS equipment by government and NGOs and to buy stoves which he noted will cause change in attitudes and behaviour in communities towards the use of fuel wood; which directly affected the environment and tree cover.
Mr Mohammed Aminu Lukumanu, CEO of the Ghana Alliance for Clean Cookstoves and Fuels (GHACCO) also in an interview reiterated that his outfit’s existence for the past years had chucked some successes in the advocacy drive focussing on partnerships to ensure synergies in influencing policies and stimulating actions that contributed to a vibrant cook stove industry.
Stressing on the health impacts when using fuel wood, he said Ghacco was still engaging government to create a national roadmap in connection with the global advocacy for cook stoves to work in the country and mentioned trainings for local artisans, encouraging tree planting as part of interventions pursued.
He said between 2018 and 2020 his organisation had committed to the distribution of 5million stoves and stated that the need for government to streamline all the sectors especially the Ghana Health Service, Energy commission, Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, Ministry of Energy and the Fishing Ministry among others and come out with separate issues related to the environment and allow the adoption of improved and cleaner cooking systems be followed with some seriousness.
He indicated that the effect of use of fuel wood and charcoal cut across all the sectors and the continuous exploitation of the nature to address cooking needs either commercial or domestic should be supported with improved commercial stoves for both traders and households.
He noted that though the advocacy on cook stoves is yielding results, it was however sad that most of the stoves were not in the open market citing very reliable improve stoves as ‘Cook mate’, ‘Obaahemaa’, ‘Environfit’, ‘Gyapa’ ‘Holycook , ‘Morrison stove’ ‘Gari elephant’, ‘komey stove’, ‘kike ethanol stove’ , and ‘prime stove’ among others.
Despite government’s efforts to follow laid down sustainable development plan under the world resource model for protecting the natural environment, the pace for adoption is critical in achieving success and attaining Goal 15 and therefore there should be no room for a compromise.
As a country, there is need for all to rapidly adopt improved technologies and improve governmental regulation and enforcement to ensure that cleaner cooking is encouraged and accepted by all.
Artisans in the sector need to be equipped for their business to be sustained in the ICS value chain in order for the stoves to be supplied for the market.