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General News of Thursday, 30 January 2014

Source: GNA

Minister blames rising poverty in Ghana on climate change

The Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Ms. Babara Serwah Asamoah, has attributed Ghana’s poverty to climate change.

According to her, the effect of climate change is evident in the rapid change in rainfall patterns, long dry seasons, drying up of major streams and rivers, heavy erosion, loss of soil fertility, loss of biodiversity, drastic decline in none timber forest products, among other things.

Speaking at a workshop on effects of climate change for high level policy makers and politicians, she said such negative effects had culminated in an increase in poverty in many rural communities which derived direct livelihood from forest and wildlife resources.

The Workshop organised by the Ghana Climate Change Agricultural and Food Security (GCAFS) Platform, was attended by farmer based organisations, NGOs, religious bodies, researchers, academia and policy makers.

The Platform has a common goal to enhance climate change adaptation in the agricultural sector in rural communities in Ghana through exchange of information and influencing policy.

Ms Asamoah said during the past three decades, forests in the country had suffered much decline through the exploitation of natural resources to meet the growing socio-economic needs of people.

She cited uncontrollable logging, rampant bush fires, excessive use of firewood, charcoal production, illegal mining activities and increased land demand for infrastructural development, air pollution; as some of the causes of climate change in the country.

She said the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources in collaboration with the Forestry Commission as part of its commitment towards mitigating climate change effects, had developed some policies which included a massive forest plantation development programme involving various models of tree planting across the country and the development of Wood Procurement Policy.

“We have also come out with the Voluntary Partnership Agreement which mandates Ghana to export only legally produced timber to the EU market, the revision of the Forest and Wildlife Policy of Ghana, the reduction of wildfires through the implementation of the national Wildfire Management Policy among others,” she added.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Dr Ahmed Yakubu Alhassan, said for some years now, Ghana had experienced the manifestation of the effects of climate change in the country.

“The 2007 flood in the northern regions which affected a total of 317,000 people, destroyed 1,000km of roads, affected 210 schools, damaged 45 health centres and contaminated 630 drinking water facilities could all be attributed to the effects of climate change,” he said.

“Again, in October 2010, several districts were severely flooded in five out of ten regions in the country, and in December 2013, Teshie, a suburb of Accra was flooded and lives and some properties were lost,” Dr. Alhassan said.

He said due to the government’s commitment to the fight against the menace, it had developed the National Climate Change Policy with a focus on combating the menace in the country.

He mentioned that the Ministry of Agriculture as part of its commitment towards the fight against climate change had resolved to commit some of its budget allocation directly to address issues pertaining to it on an incremental basis, staring from this year.

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