By Kofi Adu Domfeh
Ghana is poised to be a leader in the global movement to halt land degradation and deforestation which contribute to climate change and affect livelihoods.
The Ghana Dedicated Grant Mechanism (Ghana-DGM) project targets 52 communities within forest and transitional zones in the Brong Ahafo and Western regions. These local constituents will be empowered and supported with knowledge and financing to take steps to reorient their way of living to be sustainable, resilient and climate smart.
The project launch in the Brong Ahafo regional capital, Sunyani, received wide reception from interest groups, especially women, who are confident the initiative will help replenish the lost natural resources for the future generation.
Madam Akua Yeboah, a representative of queenmothers in the target areas, expressed gratitude for the intervention and appreciated the engagement of women in the project planning and implementation.
According to her, the local people are excited at the exposure to knowledge on the causes and impacts of extreme weather conditions.
“We the women are ready to throw in the needed support to make the Ghana DGM work to help improve our farms, livelihoods and marriages,” she said, adding that an enhanced livelihood leads to good marriages which help build good families.
The DGM Intervention
Unsustainable use of fuel wood, illegal logging and mining, uncontrolled wildfires, expansion of cocoa farms and other infrastructure development are factors militating against sustainable lands, forests and water bodies.
For a tropical country like Ghana, the reduction of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere involves reducing deforestation, reforestation, and exploring affordable and sustainable alternatives to fuel wood.
Through the World Bank, the Climate Investment Fund is providing $5.5million to implement Ghana’s DGM over a five year period. Similar projects are being implemented in other countries including Mexico, Indonesia, Burkina Faso, Peru, Brazil and the Congo.
The core goal of the Ghana-DGM is to challenge the target communities to learn more about climate change and how it impacts their daily livelihoods.
“We believe that these very local communities are uniquely placed to help solve the degradation of lands and forests and improve it for their own benefit as well as for the benefit of Ghana,” said project team leader, Dr. Nyaneba Nkrumah.
She observed the daily decisions of these communities impact the forests, soils and water bodies, whilst the local people are also the first to feel the effects of unsustainable practices and climate change.
The project therefore seeks to help the communities to solve the problem by giving them the knowledge and the financing to be able to do so.
“We can make all the policies we want but unless local communities help; they have a part to understand how climate change affects their livelihoods and they can put it to practice what is needed to ensure sustainability in the forest zone, sustainability of the soils and water bodies in a long time to come,” said Dr. Nkrumah.
National Policy and Environmental Protection
Foresters have noted that the shade provided by one healthy matured tree is equivalent to ten room-size airconditioners running 20hours a day.
Local actors under the Ghana-DGM are ready to take advantage of the project to promote sustainable and climate smart practices.
Isaac Gyamfi of project partners, Solidaridad, believes strengthening the knowledge and skills about nature in the local communities will lead to building climate resilient communities that use smart ways to farm and cook.
Nana Oboaman Bofotia Boa Amponsem II of the Sunyani Traditional Council lauded the project, but cautioned political leadership to cease hypocritical utterances and rather act right to protect the environment.
“The environment and economies are destroyed by political leadership,” he observed. “They are building their political parties instead of the nation”.
The chief expects the legal department of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to wield prosecutorial powers to effectively enforce laws on the environment.
The Ghana DGM is expected to foster synergies to drive the implementation of the country’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) submitted to the United Nations Convention Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which has targets for climate mitigation and adaptation.