Mr Asher Nkegbe, the Upper East Regional Director, Environmental Protection Agency, says drought remains a major threat to livelihoods in Northern Ghana and underscored the urgent need for stakeholders to take steps to protect and conserve the environment to mitigate the challenge.
“In the Northern part of Ghana, the drought is compounded by population and livestock pressures on land…land, we experience harsh climatic conditions, unpredictable rainfall, inappropriate farming practices that encourage erosion and impoverishment of our soils,” he said.
This, he said, had led to low agriculture productivity, creating food and nutritional insecurity among the already impoverished families and called for collective efforts to combat the challenge.
Mr Nkegbe was speaking at Bolgatanga during the commemoration of this year’s World Day to Combat Drought and Desertification on the theme, “Rise up from drought together.”
According to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) report, between 1900 and 2019, about 2.7 billion people had been affected by drought with about 11.7 million deaths recorded.
In 2019 alone, over 45 million people across Africa experienced food insecurity posed by drought.
Mr Nkegbe said as a result, the UNCCD in 2017 supported drought prone countries including Ghana to develop robust interventions and programmes to build the resilience of communities and that move had led to the development of the Ghana National Drought Plan.
Apart from this, he said, the World Bank and other partners supported the country to scale up the Sustainable Land and Water Management Project through the six-year Ghana Landscape Restoration and Small-Scale Mining Project to reverse degraded lands and forests to mitigate climate change.
He said Ghana was committed to the international protocols on drought and desertification and the Sustainable Development Goals and added, “we encourage each and everyone to take steps to protect the environment, conserve our water bodies and use them sustainably for the good of all of us.”
Mr Stephen Yakubu, the Upper East Regional Minister, noted that annual bushfires remained a major contributor to environmental destruction and drought particularly in the Upper East Region and that was retarding afforestation efforts.
He proposed that bushfires be declared national security threat and be given the necessary consideration it deserves to combat the menace and called on the Municipal and District Assemblies to enact and enforce by-laws to combat the canker.
“Traditional leaders should also develop rules and regulations on bushfires in their communities,” he added.
The Regional Minister entreated Ghanaians to support government’s regreening projects particularly the Green Ghana Initiative to restore degraded landscapes and forest reserves to mitigate climate change.
The day was marked with tree planting at strategic places in the Bolgatanga Municipality.
By Anthony Adongo Apubeo, GNA