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Chiefs no longer control natural resources – NGO

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Mr. Bernard Guri, Executive Director of Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Organizational Development (CIKOD), a non-governmental organisation, has said natural resources are no longer owned and managed by traditional authorities but by politicians and administrators.

He was speaking at a one day workshop on natural resources management organised by CIKOD in Sunyani and attended by chiefs and queen mothers in the Brong-Ahafo Region.

The workshop was to build the capacity of the participants to enable them to understand and support the idea of transparency at regional and traditional council levels.

Mr Guri said chiefs had lost control and ownership of natural resources and this had led to the emergence of illegal chainsaw operations as well as environmental and food crisis.

“More than half of our forest cover is gone, water sources are either dried up, there is increasing flooding and increasing pollution of water bodies, climate change is with us – environmental crisis,” Mr. Guri said.

He appealed to traditional authorities to take back and manage what belonged to them and manage the forests and food production for the benefit of their communities.

He appealed to the chiefs to help revitalize community spirit among the people to check deforestation and forest degradation.

“We expect Nananom to bring back the resilience in our communities to be able to cope with the changing trends”, Mr Guri said.

Mr. Wilberforce Lartey, the Deputy Executive Director of CIKOD, said public perception in a research conducted indicated traditional authorities “are contributing positively to forest governance through the enforcement of traditional customary laws and regulations.”

He said traditional authorities used revenue to preserve their heritage, culture and traditions as well as upkeep and maintenance of their palaces and stools.

He said there are laid down procedures for the disbursement of royalties in the paramountcy but this is unknown to the public.

Mr Guri said there was an increase in resource-related conflicts between community members and their traditional leaders as well as between communities and companies/state due to the non-disclosure of royalties and other revenues by some traditional leaders.

Osahene Kwaku Aterkyi II, Paramount Chief of Kukuom Traditional Area and President of Brong-Ahafo Regional House of Chiefs, said chiefs lacked organizational capacity and information on forest and natural resources management at the local level.

He appealed to the chiefs and queen mothers to pay attention to the workshop so they could be enlightened on natural resource management.

“It is when the enlightenment has been grasped that we can contribute our quota to the proper utilization and sustainability of our forests and natural resources,” Osahene Kwaku Aterkyi said.

Source: GNA

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