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Holocaust Looms at Yapei Gushiegu

2005-10-19 12:48:53
This article has been read 912 times.

The Yapei Gusheigu Constituency in the Central Gonja District of the Northern Region is under a serious environmental threat.
Any severe rainstorm in the future is likely to create a “serious disaster”, should Government, the Forestry Commission, as well as the District Assembly fail to halt the fast growing burning of charcoal and selling of firewood in the district.

The area, which is one of the largest charcoal burning communities in the north, has over 75% of its inhabitants seriously engaged in the charcoal business as their only source of livelihood.

The Yapei community has recently experienced severe rainstorm disaster, which saw the destruction of schools, churches, police station, individual houses and mosques in the area.

The Chronicle investigations have revealed that as a result of bushfire, indiscriminate felling of trees, inappropriate and extensive cropping systems and overgrazing among other bad environmental practices, over 90% of the area’s already fragile forest reserve was being confronted with many challenges.

Speaking in an interview with The Chronicle, the Member of Parliament (MP) for the area and Chairman of Northern Parliamentary Caucus, Amadu Seidu, unveiled his plans to invent concrete multi-disciplinary approach and appropriate technologies and strategies to avert the horrific culture of charcoal burning.

According to him, the problems of poverty, hunger, shortage of drinking water and diseases were likely to worsen due to the people’s unacceptable behaviour.

Our investigations surprisingly uncovered that the majority of the citizens involved in the charcoal business were not obtaining reasonable profits from their labour because they were engaged on contract basis by business tycoons from the southern part of Ghana.

Most of the people the paper interviewed asserted that charcoal burning was the only option for the majority of them to earn a living.

“It is true that some people come from the south to give us money to produce charcoal for them but it is not our fault, because if there is no business for you to do or live on, you will definitely accept the little offer from such people. Though it is our own environment that is being affected or destroyed, we cannot look at the trees, which can at least give us some small money to be standing there idle, while we starve. Even sometimes the money to cater for our children’s schooling becomes a big problem for us. So if the government will give us enough money to start some business, then we will also stop burning charcoal,” some of the women told the paper.

However, the MP, Amadu Seidu, intimated that the fate of the district was in their hands, thus they must complement the efforts of the assembly in ensuring and securing a better future for them.

Encouraging the Yapei Assembly to enforce and implement its by-laws to safeguard the environment, the MP called for punitive actions against the charcoal burners, who, according to him, have eaten deep into the young forest of the area.

He however, appealed to the National Forest Plantation Development Fund, the World Food Programme and the Northern Savanna Biodiversity Project to make funds available and to encourage the people to go into tree planting.

Surprisingly, the Northern Savanna Zone, Upper East, Upper West and Northern Regions, which covered an area of 98,156 Sq Km, had only 6,046sq km of the zone’s land area under permanent forest management.

Though less productive in terms of timber, the northern zone was rich for the supply of electricity poles, fuel wood, medicinal plants, gum Arabic, fruits, bush meat and fodder among others, and it is lying bare without any productive use.

The belief was that the water catchments for the tributaries that feed the Volta River, was being protected by the little forest reserves in the zone, thus any further degradation would greatly affect the Volta River.

On the other hand, though the Forestry Commission was making efforts to revive the forest plantation system in the area, their approach could be described as insufficient, which therefore requires collaborative efforts from other stakeholders to secure the bright future of the zone, particularly the Northern Region.

The Forestry Commission must again be more sensitive and concerned to address the problems of some highly degraded areas like Yapei and Abrumase among others, before their situations got out of control.

source: chronicle

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