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18.05.2007 Disaster

Brong Ahafo records 1,144 wildfire outbreaks

By GNA

The Brong-Ahafo Regional office of the Ghana National Fire Service has between 2002 and 2007 recorded 1,144 wildfire outbreaks in the region.

Four hundred of such fire outbreaks occurred within the first quarter of this year, Doi Kwaku Manu Afful, Regional Fire Officer has said.

He was speaking at the national launch of the wildfire management policy of the Ashanti, Brong-Ahafo and Western regions in Sunyani.

The Netherlands and Ghana governments jointly funded the management policy designed by the Ministry of Lands, Forestry and Mines.

Mr Afful attributed the high incidence of wildfires over the years, leading to severe environmental degradation and widespread poverty, to the lack of community participation and inadequate awareness creation.

He said the Service was collaborating actively in wildfire management project in the transitional zone and had trained 855 fire volunteers in communities along project sites at Bechem, Kintampo, Atebubu, Sunyani, Goaso and Dormaa.

The volunteers studied fire suppression and control procedures, foot drill, fire detection, monitoring and reporting systems, as well as crew formation.

Ignatius Baffour-Awuah, Brong-Ahafo Regional Minister, noted that most government policies to curb the outbreak of wildfires had had implementation problems "because adequate consultations were not held with relevant stakeholders during formulation stages".

He noted that wildfires had severely reduced not only the productive capacity of forests but had major negative impact on the other benefits of forest cover, including water supply, soil fertility and wildlife.

Mr Baffour-Awuah expressed the government's appreciation to the Netherlands government for the support to the Ministry of Lands, Forestry and Mines with a grant of 12 million Euros for the implementation of the policy in the transition zone of the country.

He acknowledged the contributions of the Japanese government, which was also supporting a similar wildfire management intervention under the Participatory Forest Management, alongside other projects.

The Regional Minister expressed optimism that other development partners would support new fire management projects in highly prone fire areas in the country.

Mr Baffour-Awuah urged the media to ensure that adequate publicity was given to the project to create greater awareness on the need to handle fires with care at all times.

Okatakyie Agyemang Kudom IV, President of the Brong-Ahafo Regional House of Chiefs, who presided, said the failure to respond to social responsibilities had led to forest degradation and expressed the hope that the management policy would enhance the control of wildfire outbreaks.

Source: GNA

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