The government has drawn up a comprehensive strategy to clamp down on illegal mining, Professor Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation has said.
Professor Boateng, who disclosed this in an interview with The Ghanaian Times on the sidelines of a regional workshop on sustainable land and water use in Accra yesterday.
Speaking on his maiden assignment, he said, the plan to deal with ‘galamsey’ would be done in phases and the initial phase would be on protecting the river bodies in the country.
The three-day workshop under the Building Resilience through Innovation, Communication and Knowledge Services (BRICKS) Project, is on the theme “The collaborative web 2.0 tools: a new opportunity for distance cooperation.”
It is being attended by journalists and land and water experts from Ghana, Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Niger, Mali, Mauritania and Sudan and would among others discuss the use of social media to promote best practices in sustainable land and water use management.
Though the Minister did not elaborate on the strategy and the timeline, he said in the interim, government would place a ban on mining on river bodies in the country, saying some illegal miners scoop the sand in some rivers in search for gold and other minerals.
The practice, he said, was polluting the water bodies in the country with dangerous chemicals, making the water from the river bodies unsafe for human consumption.
In addition, Prof. Boateng said the river bodies in the country were being silted through the activities of the illegal miners, resulting in flooding during heavy rain falls.
The Minister said Ghana was facing serious environmental challenges such as water pollution, land degradation, illegal lumbering and overgrazing.
Especially in the Northern part of the country which is a Sahel Zone, he said there was problem with both water and land, because there were overgrazing, which made it difficult for farm animals to get food in the dry season and water as a result of the drying of river bodies.
He disclosed that government was going to create dams in the Northern part of the country to provide water for farming in the dry season and cultivation of grass to feed farm animals.
Professor Boateng commended the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) for the workshop, which was focused on the use of social media tools to promote the environment.
“Social media is very popular in Ghana and I believe social media is going to help us in the fight against land and water pollution,” he said.
The Communications Officer of IUCN in charge of West and Central Africa, Felicite Mangan said the workshop was under the BRICKS Project, to build the capacity of journalists and land and water experts on the use of social media to share best practices on land and water across Africa.
She explained that the BRICKS Project was a six-year environmental project being financed by the World Bank to deal with the environmental challenges in the sub-region.
Ms. Mangan said the $1 billion project was being implemented by the IUCN, Global Environment Facility, OSS and CLISS in 12 African countries including Ghana.
She said the land and water resources in Africa were going under serious stress due to pollution arising out of illegal mining and poor environmental practices and called for measures to promote the land and water resources on the African continent.
By Kingsley Asare