KASA-TOWARDS A SUSTAINABLE AND ACCOUNTABLE ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT
Natural Resource and Environmental Governance (NREG) is a Development Policy Lending programme being implemented by the government of Ghana in collaboration with some of its development partners since 2006. Furthermore, it is a sector specific budget support programme to the government of Ghana to support the natural environment, forestry and wildlife and mining sectors.
NREG is to address governance in NREG through maximization of revenue for government, reduce illegal logging, social conflicts in mining areas and risks associated with climate change. This makes NREG an intersectoral working document for government of Ghana with Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MoFEP) at the centre stage.
Since Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) are relevant stakeholders in NREG in Ghana, the Royal Netherland’s Embassy is funding an interim CSOs support mechanism called Kasa, ahead of a long term support for CSOs to engage relevant stakeholders on natural resources governance of the country.
Kasa is an Akan word, meaning “speak out”. It is a mechanism to make CSOs a component of Natural Resource and Environmental Governance (NREG). Also, it is an interim project to recommend how a longer term CSO support mechanism on NREG could be structured. Kasa is a pilot project which started in August, 2008 and will end in July 2010, and is being implemented by CARE (lead organization), Inter-Church Cooperation for Development (ICCO) and Netherland’s Development Agency (SNV), all of whom have committed 1.9 million Euros into the project.
The goal of Kasa is poverty reduction through improved natural resource and environmental governance in Ghana. This seeks to ensure that CSOs and Media organizations advocate in a concerted effort for equitable access, accountability and transparency in NREG. Besides, Kasa supports research which will lead to evidence based advocacy in NREG with stakeholders particularly duty bearers.
For instance, the Kasa project has provided the Ghana Developing Communities Association (GDCA), a non-governmental organization (ngo) in the Northern Region of Ghana, an opportunity to implement the environmental aspect of its vision. GDCA has formulated and is now implementing a project called Community Empowerment for Land use Accountability (CEfLA).
The project is carrying out research into the extent of gravel and sand mining and its effects on some selected communities in the Northern Region. The findings will enable GDCA to embark on evidence-based advocacy in the Tamale Metropolis, Tolon-Kumbungu and Savelugu-Nanton Districts in the Northern Region.
Also, the project seeks to carry out sensitization meetings/workshops with natural resource stakeholders as well as engage duty bearers in the same sector in the project area.
Research conducted by this ngo, in October 2009, road construction contributed 68% of burrowed pits in the Northern Region and none has been reclaimed or reinstated to its original form. The findings revealed that the pits have contributed to loss of potent medicinal trees, pristine ecosystem and affected 177 families directly in terms of loss of farmlands.
The report further states that the estimated farmland lost to degradation stands at 187.3 hectares in only 28 communities in the region.
Applying this to food production, the burrowed pits created have denied the affected families 5 tones of maize a year (assuming 1 hectare produces 25 bags) over the past 20 years and the situation gets worst as the years go by. Every community in the region that has untarred roads, need regular reshaping and re-graveling and that calls for the creation of more burrowed pits on regular bases.
The contractors who mine the gravel and sand always sought the concern of chiefs who own the land before any of their activities begun. In the process, the chiefs take between GH¢1.00 to GH¢2.00 per trip of gravel or river sand mined. The contractors then sell the trip of gravel for GH¢35.00 and GH¢90.00 for the trip of sand.
In percentage terms, the chiefs take approximately 6% of the cost of gravel and 2% of the cost of sand from those who mine it. The chiefs buy cola nuts with the money and present them as gifts to visitors to the palace.
In this situation, the questions one will ask are: Who benefits from the gravel and sand mining? Who is most affected by the mining activities? It is high time everybody stood up to find solution to the gravel and sand mining situation in the Northern Region to help reduce poverty among the people and ensure that they are food secured.
No one is saying people should not earn a living from gravel and sand mining, but it should be done reasonably and on sustainable bases. If you mine for sometime, take a busman holiday to reinstate what has been destroyed and start a new one in that manner. If the gravel and sand mining activities are done this way, the poverty level in the region will be reduced and the natural environment will be well protected.
By: Salifu Mahama
Dalun Simli Centre