The Campaigner for EcoCare Ghana, Mrs. Patience Olesu-Adjei has called on the government and key stakeholders to increase education on fire management within communities as we draw closer to the Dry Season. According to her, this will ensure the protection of farms, the trees planted across the country during Green Ghana Day and other restoration projects aimed at restoring degraded forests as well as mitigating climate change. She explained that bushfires release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere which contributes to climate change, whilst climate change makes the weather drier and warmer leading to longer active fires, therefore perpetuating a vicious cycle if actions are not taken to address the challenge.
Mrs. Olesu-Adjei made the call at a two-day training organized by EcoCare Ghana and Tropenbos Ghana in collaboration with the Ghana Fire Service. The training aimed to equip members of the Landscape and Environmental Agility across the Nation (LEAN) Project Fire Volunteers Squad within the Transition Landscape with practical fire prevention and control skills. She explained that the setting up of the Fire Volunteers Squad and the subsequent fire management training was necessary because in the past two years, the LEAN project has supported farmers to plant over Four Hundred Thousand (400000) seedlings and given climate-smart agricultural training to farmers in the Sixty (60) projects communities. Therefore, it is “imperative to train the farmers on fire management to protect the seedlings and their livelihood”. She added that the Transition Landscape is a fire-prone area, especially during the dry season and therefore setting up Fire Volunteer Squads in communities to support the work of the Ghana Fire Service is timely and key in ensuring farmers’ livelihoods are protected to enhance food security and environmental sustainability.
During the training, the Bono East Fire Officer in charge of Rural Fires, DO3 Obed Boadi, pointed out that fires in the landscape are caused mostly by farmers, palm wine tappers, hunters, and Fulani herdsmen. He added that according to PNDC law 229 (Control and Prevention of Bushfires Act), “it is unlawful for any person to start any bushfires for any purpose” except “a person authorised by the Director of Agricultural Extension Services who may set fire for agricultural purposes”. He cautioned that anyone who breaks the law is “liable on conviction to a fine of not less than two hundred and fifty penalty units and not more than one thousand penalty units or a term of imprisonment or community labour”. He advised that citizens must report any bushfires they come across and failure to report without “justifiable reasons” is also an offence.
Mr. Samuel Yeboah, The Assemblyman for Techiman-Tanoso, a beneficiary of the training was optimistic the training will be of tremendous help in saving their farmlands which have been subjected to perennial bushfires. He advised his fellow volunteers to educate others, desist from actions that may cause bushfires and commit to supporting farmers in their locality when the need arises.
The “Landscapes and Environmental Agility across the Nation”- LEAN is a four-year project funded by the European Union’s flagship GCA+ initiative that aims to conserve biodiversity, build climate resilience, reduce emissions from land-use changes and help smallholder farmers improve their livelihoods. The project is being implemented in Ghana by a consortium of four partners; Rainforest Alliance in the High Forest Zone, World Vision Ghana in the Savannah and Tropenbos Ghana and EcoCare Ghana in the Transition Landscape respectively.
In total, about One Hundred and Ninety (190) Fire Volunteers have been trained from Fifteen (15) communities out of Sixty (60) communities who are scheduled to receive the training within the Offinso Municipal and North, Techiman Municipal and North and Nkoranza Municipal and North District Assemblies. The volunteers were taking through firefighting skills, fire detection, creation of fire belt and how to operate some basic firefighting equipment.