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General News of Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Source: GNA

Project to check land degradation launched

Accra, Feb. 12, GNA - Mr. Kwadwo Adjei-Darko, Minister of Local Government, Rural Development and Environment on Tuesday inaugurated a committee to oversee the implementation of the Ghana Environmental Management Project (GEMP).

The GEMP is an initiative by government that aimed at strengthening Ghanaian institutions and rural communities to enable them to reverse land degradation and desertification trends in the three northern regions and other communities in the northern belt of Ghana. The five-year project, which the Canadian government is funding with 201,403.72 US dollars, would also help adopt sustainable water and land management systems to improve food security and reduce poverty. Mr Adjei-Darko said the committee had an initial responsibility to guide and oversee the implementation of the National Action Programme (NAP) under the GEMP implementation programme and that it was important to assume adequate strategic, operational and financial control to achieve the desired effects.

Members of the committee were drawn from various institutions including the University of Development Studies, Environmental Protection Agency, Non-Governmental Organizations and the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Environment. Mr. Adjei-Darko said there were critical issues affecting the existence and survival of communities in the North that posed serious threat to the country and that all was set for the committee to commence the project activities in earnest to salvage the situation. He pledged the Ministry's support to the committee in the implementation of the project and urged the members to start work immediately and to work diligently to bring the project objectives to a successful conclusion.

Mr. Kwasi Agyei Tabi, Coordinator of the Project said it involved two basic elements. The first would recognize the predominant role of EPA in coordinating desertification initiatives in Ghana and to accord the EPA the capacity to perform its role effectively through decentralisation to the regional and district levels. It would also strengthen the linkage between EPA and the Ministry to plan and launch facilities to monitor report on implementation of the NAP and carry out mandated functions in the outlined regions. He said the second element of the project would support specific priority initiatives aimed at combating desertification in the catchment areas as well as map out specific environmental initiative in the District Development Plan to provide practical capacity building experience to all partners.

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