Efforts by the West Mamprusi District Assembly of the Northern Region of Ghana, to combat land degradation, desertification and contribute to the ongoing global attempt in the fight against climate change, has been given a significant boost by the Hans-Seidel-Foundation (HSF) through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), that seeks to implement a nine-month climate change adaptation and mitigation project in two communities, with a total grant of GH¢80,000.00.
Fighting climate change is a key objective outlined in the Medium Term Development Plan (MTDP) of the West Mamprusi District Assembly. Thus, the Assembly identified two communities namely; Zua and Mishio as areas for the implementation of the project.
According to a summary of the MoU contained in a report and made available to Savannahnews, the project seeks to increase tree population to ensure effective combat of desertification, and further raise awareness and strengthen civil society capacity to take up their own initiatives in the fight against climate change.
“Zua and Mishio are two communities along the White Volta River prone to climate change variability and its associated risk. They are also seriously experiencing desertification due to intensive farming activities carried out all year round along the river banks”, the report said.
The two communities which are expected to own the project shall provide land, labour and other necessary assistance to support the project implementation and its sustainability.
The report also explained that HSF, a German based Foundation, on the other hand is expected to provide financial, logistical, institutional and human support towards the project implementation while the West Mamprusi District Assembly and other decentralized departments would provide administrative and technical support to that effect.
The MoU which was signed by Mr. Ralf Wittek, Director of HSF West Africa and Alhaji Inusah Abubakari, the West Mamprusi District Coordinating Director was witnessed by Mr. Abu Iddrisu, the Northern Regional Director of Environmental Protection Agency, District Chief Executive, District Planning Officer as well as the Project Coordinator Mr. Issifu Sulemana and Deputy Project Coordinator Mr. Samual Orison.
The DCE, Mr Yusif Adam, welcomed the project and gave accounts of some of the serious environmental challenges including annual devastating bushfires and the efforts being made to address them.
Whilst pledging the support of his office towards the implementation of the project, he also called for the cooperation and support of both beneficiary communities, stressing on the need for residents to put an end to bush burning, indiscriminate tree felling and farming along the White Volta Banks.
Mr. Wittek also stressed on the partnership that has been created between his organisation and the West Mamprusi District Assembly and how important it is to utilise funds provided for the project appropriately. Adding that, “the project stakeholders must work hard to ensure that German tax payers monies are used judiciously to alleviate the suffering of poor rural communities in the West Mamprusi District.”
He stressed the need for more transparency and accountability in the process of the project implementation, promising the district of much bigger projects/funds from the Hans-Seidel-Foundation if the current one succeeds.
In the meantime, sensitisation programs are being rolled out in both communities towards the successful implementation of the project. About one hundred and twelve (112) people from both communities (56 from Zua and 56 from Mishio) have been sensitized on the project goals.
The sensitization workshop was also aimed at creating a platform for the two communities to discuss and contribute to the success of the project and to seek the full cooperation and collaboration of community members.
The people who participated in the sensitization programs comprised of chiefs, elders, opinion leaders, women, men and children, farmers, fisher men and women, dry season gardeners, petty traders among others, considered as target groups. These groups of people sensitized are also expected to take up the process to sensitize other community members within and beyond their various communities on the West Mamprusi District re-forestation project.
Key topics that were discussed during the community sensitization programs included the current state of the West Mamprusi environment and its natural resources; the challenges of managing their environmental resources; the impact of the depletion of the environmental resources; the overview of the West Mamprusi District environmental policy among others.
Other issues also discussed include the issue of community ownership; land sourcing – land tenure systems; common benefits sharing and project sustainability.
The members of the two communities upon understanding the project goals and what it seeks to achieve, demonstrated their willingness to own and manage the project to its successful end. They however express their worry about the current threats being posed by the Fulani herdsmen, lamenting that their own food crops are sometimes destroyed by cattle owned by these alien Fulani herdsmen.
They expressed their fear about the success of the tree planting project if the current threat being posed by the Fulani herdsmen, still continued. They appealed to the Paramount Chief of the area (Wungu Naba), DCE for West Mamprusi and Chiefs of the two communities to put in place measures to curb the situation.