Stakeholders from sub-Saharan Africa have ended a four-day international conference on Global Environmental Facility (GEF) Programme in Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region.
The GEF Programme, funded by the GEF Fund through the World Bank is an Integrated Approach Programme (IAP) aimed at fostering sustainability and resilience for food security in sub-Saharan Africa.
The participants were drawn from Ghana, Burkina Faso, Togo, Mali, Kenya, Zambia, Senegal, Niger, Ethiopia and Uganda. Also in attendance were representatives from United States of America and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), among others.
Addressing the opening ceremony on Monday, the Regional Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Asher Nkegbe, told the participants that the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI) through the EPA in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture (MOFA) and the Forestry Commission, among others, were implementing a project dubbed, “ the Ghana Sustainable Land and Water Management Project (SLWMP), also funded by the GEF.
The Regional Director, who is the focal person of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) to Ghana, explained that the SLWMP was aimed at reducing land degradation and enhancing maintenance of biodiversity in selected micro-watersheds in the northern part of Ghana.
He said the project was being implemented in 247 communities spread across the 12 districts in the five regions, comprising Northern, Upper East, Upper West, North East and the Savannah
“The specific objectives of the SLWMP is to demonstrate improved sustainable land and water management practices aimed at reducing land degradation and enhancing maintenance of biodiversity in selected micro-watersheds, and to strengthen spatial planning for identification of linked watershed investments in the above mentioned regions of Ghana,” he said.
Mr Nkegbe said the purpose of the conference, dubbed, “Third Global Environment Facility- Integrated Approach Programme on Food Security”, was to stock take progress on implementation and identify challenges, especially in terms of capacity needs.
Additionally, he said it was meant to provide training opportunities on monitoring and assessment solutions, including earth-observation technologies and a results-framework online system, and hold the first annual consultative committee meeting with representatives nominated by partnering countries and institutions.
The Upper East Regional Minister, Ms Paulina Patience Abayage, lauded the organisers for arranging the international conference in the region, and hoped the Integrated Approach concept of the project would help address the food security needs of the implementing countries, including Ghana.
She said the five regions in the northern part of Ghana were being threatened by the impacts of climate change, including perennial floods, high temperatures and recurring dry spells during rainy seasons, among others.
The Regional Minister said another major problem confronting the regions were the rampant bushfires, indiscriminate tree felling for charcoal production which contribute to land degradation, desertification and poor crop yields.
She said government was happy that the SLWMP, which was being piloted in the five regions of the north, had trained communities on sustainable land and water management practices such as composting, stone lining, earth bunding, crop rotation, intercropping and agroforestry.
“Practices such as bamboo cultivation, fodder banks and Community Resource Management Areas (CREMAs) have all been established in the beneficiary communities and are all thriving very well,” she said.
FROM SAMUEL AKAPULE, BOLGATANGA