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18.06.2004 General News

Policy on desertification before cabinet

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Nandom (UW), June 18, GNA - A comprehensive National Action Programme which outlines strategies to combat drought and desertification in the country, has been placed before cabinet and would soon be adopted for implementation.

The programme, initiated by the Ministry of Environment and Science and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was produced through workshop at the district, regional and national levels. Dr. Matthew Antwi, Deputy Minister for Environment and Science said this on Thursday at the national celebration of the World Day to combat drought and desertification at Nandom in the Lawra District of the Upper West Region.

This year's celebration focused on the social dimension of desertification through migration and poverty.

The Deputy Minister noted that six out of the 10 regions in the country had serious problems of land degradation, which, if not urgently addressed could lead to desertification in the country.

Dr Antwi said any districts, which was threatened by desertification and hoped to benefit from the newly established National Desertification Fund, should show evidence of having generated or acquired resources by itself.

He, therefore, called on the district assemblies to start looking for innovative ways of generating income from all economic activities being undertaken in their districts, without compromising sustainability of the environment.

He called for the formation of green clubs in schools in the region and institute a scheme to reward hardworking ones.

According to him, if communities continued to loose their ability to sustain their primary economic base, which is agriculture, he said the problem of rural-urban migration would not only persist but get out of hand.

Mr Sahanum Mogtari, |Upper West Regional Minister said communities in the region were being empowered to form community environmental management committees and enact rules and regulations to protect the environment.

Mr. Mogtari said, an evaluation of the environment sector in the region indicated that the incidence of wild bush fires reduced by 25.9 per cent in 2002.

He said a total of 400 hectares of forest reserve had been transplanted with seedlings of various species, while 30 active environmental clubs had been formed all over the region to mobilise the youth to carry out environmental protection programmes.

He appealed to municipal and district assemblies in the desert prone areas to mainstream anti-desertification programmes into their district level activities.

Mr Jonathan Allotey, Executive Director of EPA called on individuals and groups to menage the natural resources available to them and the wider environment, responsibly.

Prominent personalities at the occasion, included, some members of the parliamentary select committee on Environment, Science and Technology, led by its chairman, Dr. Edward Baffoe Bonney, MP for Asokwa East and the Director-General of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, Professor E.H.K. Akaho.

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