Cross border fire threatens climate change projects in Guan District

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Fire
© AFP 2021 / VAHID AHMADI

Climate resilient campaigners in the Guan District of the Oti Region have asked government to deal with cross-border bushfires that affect forest conservation and agriculture.

They cited bushfires from neighboring Togo during the harmattan, which destroyed farms and vegetation in the district, making the fight against deforestation and emissions from bushfires a difficult task.

Mr Paul Komla Onai, in Charge of Operations and Administration, District Office of the National Disaster and Management Organisation, said the strategic location of Likpe Bala and Likpe Mate that shared borders with Togo on the Eastern part of Ghana, made the area prone to bushfires.

“Though the Togolese authorities are taking steps to prevent bushfires, beyond standards, at times fires escape from human control and cross over to the district,” he said.

Every year, herdsmen in Togo set fire to the dry vegetation to allow fresh grass to spring up for cattle grazing, resulting in bush fires, which affected the Guan communities, particularly Lipke Bala and Likpe Mate.

Mr Onai, the chairman of the Likpe Bala Fire Volunteer Group, said this at a meeting for fire volunteers, at Likpe Bala, to assess forest conservation and bushfire prevention measures.

It was organised by the Accelerated Rural Development Organisation (ARDO), a non-governmental organisation (NGO) focusing on rural development and forest conservation.

He warned that if the practice persisted, efforts by the government, individuals and organisations to tackle climate change effects in the district would not yield the desired results.

Commenting on deforestation, Mr Onai said: “The use of forest products is inevitable, though it affects climate change. It is for this reason that the volunteers, apart from preventing bush fires, plant trees to replace the one that are being cut in the forests.”

Mr Winfried Daniel Donkor, the Programmes Director/Coordinator, ARDO, commended Gower Street, a UK-based charity funding efforts to combat the global climate emergency, for supporting climate change projects in the district.

He said the charity, through the ARDO, funded climate change projects at Likpe Bala and Lolobi Ashiambi, also in the district, to reduce carbon emissions.

Stakeholders such as charcoal producers, chain-saw operators, palm wine tappers, farmers, game and honey hunters had been mobilised to spearhead the project, to make it community-owned, he said.

Mr Donkor said anti-bush fire volunteer groups, mainly made up of the youth, had been formed and trained to assist in the climate change programme.

Additionally, ARDO has put in place Community Environmental Committees, including leadership of all the stakeholders, to develop strategies to prevent and manage fires that may occur.

Ms Mary Ayivor, a member of the Likpe Bala Fire Volunteer group, said: “There is the urgent need to tackle bushfires as it is a threat to food security and biodiversity.”

She appealed to the Guan District Assembly to support anti-bush fire volunteers with wellington boots, fire extinguishers, nose masks and other personal protective equipment to enhance their work.

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