Friday, June 10, 2016

Need For Ghana To Adopt Measures To Protect Water Bodies - Ayariga

Mahama Ayariga

The Minister of Environment Science, Technology and Innovation, Mahama Ayariga has expressed the urgent need for Ghana to adopt more practical means to protect the country's water bodies from the effects of climate change.

He said that managing freshwater bodies in Ghana is currently an urgent and significant development issue, since most rivers and streams are drying up due to climate change among others.

Mr. Mahama Ayariga made the observation in Tamale during the official launch of the Adaptation Fund Project aimed at building resilience and adaptive capacity of rural livelihoods to climate variability through improved management of water resources and diversifying livelihoods in rural communities. The four year project, spanning 2016 to 2020 is being implemented in ten (10) districts of the three regions of the North.

The Minister disclosed that the project would promote four types of adaptation intervention namely; Livelihood enhancement, Livelihood diversification, Ecosystem protection and enhancement, and Community level water infrastructure planning.

According to him, those approaches would build up financial, natural, physical and social capital of the beneficiary communities. Adding “About 60, 000 people are expected to benefit directly from the project, while the entire population in the Volta River Basin which is estimated to be over 8 million are also to benefit indirectly.

With funding from the Adaptation Fund Secretariat and in partnership with UNDP, the project is also to protect major river basins in Northern Ghana for sustainable livelihoods.

He said that the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation initiated the Adaptation Fund Project after recognizing the importance of improving the protection of buffer zones of river basins, enhancing water access and increasing institutional capacity and coordination for integrated water management in Ghana.

Mr. Ayariga mentioned Savelugu, Bole and Zabzugu districts in Northern Region, Bawku Central, Bongo, Bawku West and Builsa North districts in the Upper East Region and Nandom, Nadowli and Sissala East Districts in the Upper West Region as beneficiary districts of the four-year project. 

He noted that as part of project implementation strategies, Climate Change Adaptation Monitoring Committees would be established at the National, Regional, District and Community levels to monitor the success of the project.

Mr. Ayariga however urged project implementers to include traditional authorities and opinion leaders of the communities in these implementation committees. He further stated that ”the committees are expected to delineate projects communities along the river basins and of major roads (for demonstration purposes), provide support to protect them from bushfires, restore and manage them as community natural resources for livelihood (medicinal value, food, honey, tourism) and enhancement of ecological functions of the buffer zone (enhance rainfall, access to water, etc)”.

Polluted River Ankobra
The Committees, he said would also intensify capacity building, education, and training of all stakeholders and ensure their commitment to the conservation of the buffer zones.

“In addition to this, the project will develop comprehensive management and investment plans for the White and Black Volta and the Oti river basins to take into account climate change impacts and the needed interventions” the Minister added.

On her part, the UNDP Resident Representative and UN Resident Coordinator, Christine Evans–Klock said that there was evidence of the pronounced vulnerability of drought in the three Northern Regions in Ghana. 

“For example, a recent study by the Water Resource Commission reveals that, the White Volta Basin’s situation has deteriorated from “marginally vulnerable” 25 years ago, back in 1990, to “water stressed” in 2020, and is expected to deteriorate still further, by 2050, to a situation of “water scarcity”.

She observed that the local economies and livelihoods in the North remained largely dependent on rain-fed agriculture, most of which are still on subsistence scale, with food crops cultivated mostly in only one season.

“Rain dependence means that farmers suffer significant losses when the rains fail. The potential for water storage and irrigation systems are high in Northern Ghana, but this potential has not yet been turned to the advantage of agricultural productivity and resilience” she explained.

UNDP Resident Representative said it is against this backdrop, that the government of Ghana had developed the Adaptation Fund Project. Madam Christine stated that turning to good use the resources from the Adaptation Fund and technical assistance from UNDP, the project has been designed to address the decrease in water availability and the increasingly unpredictability of water resources that have been induced by climate change and that are increasingly putting in jeopardy current livelihoods of rural communities in Northern Ghana.

She revealed the project would target the principal causes of vulnerability identified in the three regions of the North, and it would deliver support through improved water resource management planning, that takes into account the impacts of climate change. 

The project, Madam Christine added will also drive support through grassroot participation in water management planning and implementation of water resource management activities at community and district level; and diversification of livelihoods within local communities as safety nets to climate change impacts.

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