Ghana can apply for help from $3b Sahel Programme to tackle desertification in north – Prof. Ncube

Prof. Nthuli Ncube

Ghana has an opportunity to apply for some financial help under the $3 billion Sahel Programme jointly funded by the Global Environment Fund (GEF), the Least Developed Country Fund/Special Climate Change Fund and the African Development Bank (AfDB), a seniour official of the Bank has said.

The programme is for targeted investments to address priorities set by 12 African countries in West Africa and the Sahel, particularly the challenges of desertification.

In response to a question posed by during a press conference at the just-ended Africa Economic Commission Conference which took place from October 25 to 28, 2011 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Prof. Nthuli Ncube, Chief Economist and Vice President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), said Ghana can apply for support from the Sahel Programme to address desertification in the northern part of the country. He said if the country applies for assistance it will be considered.

Ghana has been experiencing the devastating effects of desertification, which is a feature of climate change. And the northern part of the country which is also the poorest is the hardest hit. The northern parts of the country, comprising the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions, together constitute more than 30 percent of the total land area of the country.

The government has established the Savannah Development Authority (SADA) to address the issues of development in the area.

For instance, statistics released in 2007 by Ghana’s Environment Protection Agency (EPA) showed that 49 out of the 138 districts in Ghana were currently in the desert belt. The country is losing about 20,000 hectares of land annually to desertification which is further deepening degradation of farmlands and livelihoods.

According to the World Bank Ghana has experienced an annual productivity loss of 2.9 percent in all crops and livestock due to erosion and nutrient depletion.  This translates into approximately two to five percent of agricultural GDP.

A Deputy Northern Regional Director of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) has been cited by the GNA to have said that over 1.2 million Ghanaians, representing five per cent of the population, are food insecure.

According to him, about 34 per cent of this population can be found in the Upper West with 15 per cent in the Upper East and 10 per cent in the Northern regions.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi, back from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

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