The Media Coalition Against Galamsey has extended its campaign to the Talensi District to educate community members and Galamsey operators on the need to halt the illegal business and preserve the environment for future generations.
The actions of the Coalition which is made up of media organizations and other bodies including the National Commission for Civic Education, Star Ghana, the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association, and the Ghana Community Radio Network, is a direct result of government determination to stop the increasing damage to the country’s forests and water bodies through illegal mining, popularly called Galamsey.
A member of the Coalition, Mr Kofi Lawe, in an overview of the Town Hall Meeting held at Gbene in the Talensi District of the Upper East Region told the durbar that the coalition had come to conclusion that if it does not fully participate in the campaign against illegal mining, the country could lose its natural water and forest bodies in the nearest future.
According to him, it was no secret that the country was virtually running into calamity, because some Ghanaians desire to illegally destroy the natural habitats and water bodies in the country which were the very surviving rights of the people, domestic and wild animals.
He said Galamsey was a gradual killer of communities, people, and nation because illegal mining had forced the closure of some water treatment sources in the country and added that River bodies such as the Ankobra, Tano, Densu among others were virtually dead through these illegal mining activities.
He made it clear that the Coalition was not against mining, however, it was against illegal mining and said the concerns expressed about denying people livelihoods because of the ban on illegal mining were not fair assessments and conclusions by sections of the public.
“Before galamsey, people lived happily and better lives in these communities and so we must resort to the friendly ways of making a living” he added.
Mr Lawe noted that the issue about the fight against illegal mining activities must be holistically tackled and pursued to the end and said tough as the fight may be, it would even be more disastrous should the Coalition retreat as result of the endless criticisms from proponents against the ban.
Mr John Naada, Regional Manager at the Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission in the Upper East Region who addressed the durbar said Galamsey had become an albatross to forestation and indicated that the forest was meant to protect the vegetation covers including protecting water basins of the White and Black Volta Rivers.
He said Isolated pits were so prolific in the mining areas which dangerously undermined roots of trees and shrubs that constituted the medicinal source for the herbs mostly used by community members to treat ailments, adding that as chemicals such as mercury and cyanide are used to pollute soils, and rivers, it affected herbal trees and shrubs which invariably affect human life, causing early deaths, cancers, reduction in wildlife, and cutting off of regenerations.
There were mixed reactions from the Community members at the meeting when opportunity came for them to contribute. While some supported the ban and encouraged the Coalition to vigorously pursue the fight to save the environment from destruction by galamsey operators and their sponsors, others justified why the ban should be lifted, stating that the ban had denied them of their livelihoods and brought hardships to the community.