Desertification is threat to agriculture and energy – Minister
Mr Ayariga said this in a speech read on his behalf by his deputy, Dr Alfred Sugri Tia, at this year’s World Desertification and Drought Day held at Bongo on Friday.
It was on the theme: “Inclusive Co-operation for Achieving Land Degradation Neutrality”.
Mr Ayariga said desertification and drought had greatly affected the livelihoods of the people, especially the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions.
He blamed the situation on human activities including illegal logging, unsustainable farming practices, bush burning and overgrazing and said those negative practices had affected the rainfall pattern and water conservation which were critical for food production and energy generation.
He said the Ministry had undertaken Sustainable Land and Water Management interventions in land degraded communities to help address the problem.
This, he said, was done in collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with support from the World Bank and the Global Environmental Facility.
Mr Ayari mentioned the creation of buffer zones, tree planting, earth bonding and farmer managed natural regeneration as some of the interventions.
To further help stop degradation, Ghana had joined the global community to implement the “Land Degradation Neutrality” which aims at reclaiming degraded land such as mined areas and farm lands, he said.
“This approach provides a collaborative, effective and efficient means to implement the Sustainable Development Goals so as to reach our shared global vision of prosperity, health, and dignity for all the world’s citizens,” Mr Ayariga said.
He emphasised the need for the implementation of the Land Degradation Neutrality Concept which would contribute significantly to addressing food and energy security as well as help eradicate poverty and make the communities prosperous.
Professor Vincent Nartey, the Chairman of the EPA Management Board, attributed the low inflow of water into the Akosombo Dam to desertification in the three northern regions which are the catchment areas of the White and Black Volta that feed the dam.
“The rate of desertification is alarming and it is estimated that about 24 billion tons of fertile soil disappear annually on the global scale. The rate has significantly accelerated over the past 20 years and currently Ghana’s transition zone is threatened by desertification,” Prof. Nartey said.
He called for continuous strengthening of existing partnership, education and training, creating enabling environment and promoting sustainable development in tackling desertification.
The World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, which has been observed since 1995, is an important global and national event aimed at promoting awareness on the need to control human action on land resources to ensure that land degradation is reduced to the barest minimum.