Traditional authorities and opinion leaders have been encouraged to lead their communities to adopt innovative ways of water management for agriculture and domestic use.
This would help conserve water as it was becoming a scarce commodity due to the pressure on it.
The Regional Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Emmanuel Lignule, made the call when he addressed a forum to mark the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought celebration, which took place in Wa.
The thrust of the celebration was the need to remind humankind that desertification is real and so man must make a conscious effort to halt its spread and institute pragmatic measures to recover degraded lands.
Held on the theme: “Her Land, Her Rights: Advancing Gender Equality and Land Restoration Goals”, the forum was organised by EPA and attracted personalities drawn from the Clergy, security services, traditional authorities and heads of departments, among others, in the regional capital.
Mr Lignule noted that June 17 every year had been set aside worldwide for the celebration of the day; hence, the need to raise awareness of gender equality in the threat posed by desertification.
This was because land degradation brought along with it desertification which impeded agriculture, scarcity of water and poverty, which, he said, was very severe in the savannah part of the country.
“We need to adopt very innovative ways for improving the social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of the drylands.
“The climatic conditions in the northern sector are changing, we are experiencing decreasing annual rainfall, erratic rainfall patterns, which is adversely affecting rural livelihoods.
“It is scientifically proven that what has accounted for this situation is the mismanagement of the ecological systems; hence, the need for more discourse and education on the issue,” he said.
He thus called for the involvement of all stakeholders, including the traditional authorities to manage land properly to combat desertification and the subsequent scarcity of food and water.
Threat to environment
The Regional Minister, Hafiz Bin Salih, expressed his gratitude to the EPA for bringing the national day celebration to the region.
In a speech read by the Chief Director, Peter Maala, on his behalf, the minister said with the celebration coming a few days after the National Green Ghana Day enforced the importance attached to the challenge of desertification and drought.
He noted that some of the contributory factors that threaten the environment were a combination of biophysical and socio-economic factors such as the abuse of chemicals, farming close to river bodies and even in river beds during the dry season, bush burning, over-harvesting of trees for firewood, construction and energy, overgrazing and improper agricultural practices.
He was grateful to some of the traditional authorities and opinion leaders for their conscious efforts in combating the threats by banning excessive charcoal burning, bushfires and collection of firewood.
Whilst congratulating women for their hard work in agriculture, he lamented that they did not have access to secure and fertile lands to venture into economic tree cultivation because of the land tenure system and as such made do with degraded and infertile lands.