Let’s Facilitate The Process Of Gazzetting CREMA Bye-Laws

Unless steps are taken to fast track the process for gazetting the bye-laws for governing the Community Resource Management Areas (CREMAs) in the Northern and Upper West regions, gains that local communities have made over the years in managing natural resources in their environs will be eroded.

These communities, namely Murugu, Mongnori and Jelinkon near the Mole National Park in the Northern Region; and Zupiri and its neighbouring communities in the Upper West Region have established CREMAs, and are gradually making strides towards strengthening the management of natural resource for maximum benefit.

The non-gazettment of bye-laws governing CREMA operation is however, hampering their effective functioning. This is because the non-gazetting of the bye-laws means these CREMAs currently lack legal backing to function, despite the existence of the draft bye-laws. The BUSAC Service Provider, Ernest Aayel Beyuo explained that once gazetted, the bye-laws will legalise the functioning of the CREMAs.

This came to light at a recent stakeholders workshop at Damongo facilitated by Mr. Aayel to discuss the statues of the bye-laws as well as validate the findings of a research work on the viability of the CREMAs. The CREMA executives, District Assemblies and wildlife officials are worried that unless the process is hastened, the gazetting will be unduly delayed again.

Their main concern is that come December, 2014 the term of office will expire for the District Assemblies, within which the CREMAs are located. Members of these District Assemblies namely West Gonja, Sawla-Tuna-Kalba and Nadowli Kaleon are conversant with the bye-laws, and have been working with the people to fine tune and finalise them. If the current Assemblies have to set the pace for gazetting the bye-laws, then the process has to be fast tracked.

During the discussions participants agreed that relevant comments collated during other workshops should be quickly incorporated into the bye-laws to make them complete. The Assistant Park Manager and Collaborative Resource Management Officer, Festus Agyayao asked A Rocha Ghana, an NGO that works with CREMA communities, to fine tune the bye-laws and facilitate the process for gazetting.

This means that A Rocha Ghana must expedite action on finalising the draft bye-laws and get them to the District Assemblies for further action before or by the time of their last sessions in the next 40 or so days.

The stakeholders mostly representatives from the various CREMA communities, District Assemblies and Wildlife staff agreed to assist A Rocha Ghana complete its assignment in record time. Speaking on behalf of the District Assemblies, the Assistant Director of the West Gonja District Assembly assured the communities of the support of the Assemblies to ensure that the bye-laws are gazetted before their tenure of office ends.

It is to this end, that the Business Advocacy Challenge (BUSAC) Fund is supporting these CREMAs through the Murugu/Mognori CREMA Society Ltd. According to the BUSAC Fund Manager, Nicolas Jorgensen Gebara, the Fund was attracted to support the CREMAs because of the opportunities it afforded community members, “to forge a meaningful balance between conservation and development in ways that economically empower them and alleviate poverty.”

Aside the outstanding issue of gazetting the bye-laws, the CREMAs of Murugu/Mognori, Jilinkon and Zupiri have positioned themselves to manage and administer natural resources.

These communities have established a management structure comprising the CREMA Executive Committee (CEC), which among other things has the powers to establish rules and regulations controlling access to natural resources in the delineated areas. It is also responsible to raise income for the CREMA from trade in natural resources based enterprises such as bee-keeping and eco-tourism.

Next is the CREMA Resource Management Committee, whose functions include enforcing CREMA rules and regulations at the community level. It is further mandated to mobilise financial and other resources through granting of permits to hunt, trade in bush meat and other natural resource based enterprises identified and approved by the CEC.

The last on the structure are the CREMA constituents. They are made up of indigenous residents of participating local communities. As part of the system, the CREMAs have constitutions governing their affairs as well as bye laws that empower them to effectively operate as a CREMA.

Since the establishment of the CREMAs, participating communities have been benefitting in various ways including getting assistance to undertake environmentally friendly economic ventures like bee-keeping, shea-nut gathering and processing, and agro-forestry.

Bodies that have been to the aid of these CREMAs include international organisations such as the Global Environment Facility (GEF) that has trained women solar engineers in the Zupiri CREMA, NGOs including A Rocha Ghana that have been training Murugu and Mognori CREMA in agro-forestry and educating them about climate change, and individual philanthropists who have helped some residents to establish bee-keeping facilities as well as enhanced their eco-tourism potentials. This was confirmed by the findings of the research undertaken by Dr. Andrew Kyei Agyare, a wildlife expert and operations manager (Stakeholder) of the Wildlife Division.

The CREMA is a system that enables local communities to participate in natural resources management. It positions them to effectively manage and benefit from natural resources outside protected areas.

The CREMAs of Murugu/Mognori, Jilinkon and Zupiri having satisfied all the requirements for engaging in natural resource management, particularly wildlife, have been given their certificates of devolution from the Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission. Therefore, the communities are now completely responsible for managing wildlife and their habitats outside the reserves.

By Ama Kudom-Agyemang

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