The National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) in the Upper West Region has mounted an anti-bushfire campaign in five municipal and district assemblies in the region.
Since September this year, NADMO had sensitised 182 communities in the Wa municipality, Lambussie, Wa East, Nandom and Daffiama-Bussie-Issah districts on the dangers of indiscriminate bush burning.
According to the Regional Director for NADMO, Mr Mustapha Ahmed, the campaign which was done in collaboration with the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS), with support from the various assemblies, became necessary following the onset of the dry season, which was mostly characterised by indiscriminate burning.
He said in an interview with the Ghanaian Times here in Wa, on Tuesday that his outfit sought to prevent the adverse repercussions of uncontrolled bushfires such as post-harvest losses, especially in farming areas where food was gathered to feed the entire region and beyond.
The Upper West Region is noted for bush burning in the country and the negative implications had been dire and this had called for several anti-bushfire campaigns by various stakeholders with NADMO moving beyond responding to victims to preventing the menace.
Mr Ahmed said the emphasis of the campaign messages was on the avoidance of setting fire to the bush, as it could burn beyond the intended jurisdiction, saying “if for some unavoidable reason, people will have no choice than to burn, they must construct fire belts to control the fire”.
“There have been instances where people have lost their entire produce to bush burning. Recently a man lost eight acres of maize to bush burning, and in such instances it becomes very difficult to even identify and arrest the culprits, because no one will own up to the crime,” he said.
Mr Ahmed said bush burning was a criminal act, and could be punished by the PNDC Law 229, Act 1990, which prohibited the starting of fire irrespective of the reason, and said such people, if caught, would be made to face the law.
He said the campaign enjoyed the support of traditional authorities in some of the areas who led their people to draft by-laws to control the menace.
“The Chief of Lawra for instance, issued a notice through the by-law inhibiting any form of bush fire in the area, and this has gone a long way to ensure that no one has been able to set fire to the bush in the area this year,” he said.
He lauded the collaboration and called for more of such, saying his outfit was going to work closely with community fire volunteers that were set up in some areas to monitor closely activities of people to ensure they nipped the practice in the bud.
For her part, the Regional Public Relations Officer (PRO) for NADMO, Ms Erika Sieyi, said the organisation had also embarked on radio sensitisations across the region with the GNFS, and the response had been encouraging.
FROM LYDIA DARLINGTON FORDJOUR, WA