Stakeholders in the Lawra District of the Upper West Region have proposed to communities in the district to either revive their anti-bushfire bye-laws or develop new ones to help reduce the occurrence of bushfires.
The communities are not just to develop the bye-laws but also show serious commitment in enforcing their implementation to ensure strict compliance that will lead to significant reduction in the spate of bushfires in the district.
The proposal by the stakeholders came after it had been observed that bushfires was the leading contributor to climate change in the district coupled with its devastating impact on people’s livelihoods.
The stakeholders including chiefs and other traditional authorities, Assembly members, farmers, hunters, the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS), the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), the Ghana Police Service, the District Assembly, Civil Society Organisations and members of the Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) platform among others attended the meeting in Lawra.
Vigorous educational campaign on the effects of bushfires in all communities to whip up understanding, introduction of spot fines for perpetrators of bushfires when caught, and the introduction of an award scheme for communities who do not burn their bush have been identified by the stakeholders as some of the ways that could help boost the fight against the bushfire menace in the district.
They also discouraged any interference from any chief or political figures in the district during enforcement of the bye-laws.
Mr Daniel Banuoku, a Deputy Director of the Center for Indigenous Knowledge and Organisational Development (CIKOD), sponsors of the meeting, said curbing bushfires is a shared responsibility, adding that what was needed to make bye-laws work was commitment to enforcement.
He said he even wish that communities could be tagged after a period of implementation of their own bye-laws with colours such as green (Communities that don’t burn), yellow (Communities with minimal burning) and red (Communities with high rate of burning).
“If you are a chief and your community is tagged red and because of that the District Assembly is refusing to give your community development projects, you will learn to sit up and enforce your bye-laws”, he said.
Mr Banuoku said bush burning contributed significantly to loss of soil fertility as it killed all the micro-organisms in the soil and the washimng away of the top soil, adding that this accounted for the poor yields farmers in the district were recording each harvest period.
Assistant Divisional Officer One Cynthia Ayebire, the Lawra District Commander of the GNFS, said frequent fighting of bushfires was the major thing draining the resources of the service in the district and expressed the hope that stakeholders would demonstrate strong commitment to the formulation and enforcement of the community bye-laws to reduce the menace.
Naa Bo-ib Nyozie II, Chief of Tampie, said bush burning is a serious concern and pledged their support to the process of formulation of the bye-laws as well as the implementation and enforcement.
Mr David Kuudegr, Assembly member for Yagpelle Electoral Area, said commitment was needed not only from stakeholders but also from community members and appealed for their support to make the bye-laws work.