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Farmers and communities in the Northern Savannah Zone of Ghana are being assisted to adopt sustainable land management practices to help reverse land degradation and desertification.

District Crops Officer, Department of Agriculture in the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Dominic Angbangbio (left), with the Head of the the Namong Community, Bawku West District in the Upper East Region, Ghana, during a tour by SAWAP/BRICKS conference participants, on Thursday, May 11, 2017

Land degradation in Ghana – and indeed Africa – is increasingly being recognised as a key development issue because of its impact on the productive capacity of land. In Ghana, rural households are majorly affected because of their dependence on agriculture and other natural resources-dependent activities as sources of livelihoods.

But relief has emerged, thanks to the Sustainable Land and Water Management Project (SLWMP), which is being supported by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the World Bank.

At the 4th Sahel and West Africa Programme in Support of the Great Green Wall Initiative (SAWAP) that held last week in the West African country, officials shed some light on the venture and took participants on a three-day tour of some of the project sites located mostly in the nation’s Upper East Region.

In the Namong Community, Bawku West District in the Upper East Region for example, officials are adopting intergrated water resources and land management practices by:

  • Compost preparation and utilisation
  • Earth bonding in order to reduce runoff and maintain soil nutrient
  • Mixed soya intercropping with maize

District Crops Officer, Department of Agriculture in the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Dominic Angbangbio, said that, amid challenges such as water shortage, the project has introduced maize cropping into the community.

“Maize production is now stable venture in the community, now competing with the production of millet and sorghum. Community members were supported with certified seeds and fertiliser to complement the compost production. Since the intervention, the community now has a rich soil,” said Angbangbio.

On water, he stated: “There is only one surviving borehole in the community. Water shortage has slowed down the intervention, as they go to neighbouring villages to get water, which is required for composting and watering of the trees.”

According to him, the community has scored high because bush burning is now a thing of the past, even as community members have embraced tree planting. He added that villagers are trying to protect and restore a river that has now dried up.

Similarly, the Community Resources Management Areas (CREMA) of Banu and Kunchogu communities highlighted a number of riverine vegetation and livelihood support activities. At Kunchogu, the community operates a shear nut processing plant, where the nuts from the numerous shear trees around are processed. They also operate beehives that produce honey.

The CREMA concept is an innovative natural resource management and landscape-level planning tool for community initiatives. It is developed as an initiative for transferring conservation and management responsibility and authority to rural communities.

At the mountainous Yameriga Community in Talensi District, participants inspected the implementation of subprojects such as stone lining, enrichment planting and natural regeneration.

No fewer than 20 beneficiaries use the “A-frame” device to line the stones along perceived contour lines thereby creating a stone bonding, which prevents the rains from washing away manure and top soil, controls erosion and enriches the vegetation.

A project officer said: “The people are in support of the natural regeneration. We intend putting in place a water system to support their livestock. We have so far planted tree seedlings on up to three hectares of land. This year we aim to plant 1,000 eucalyptus trees.”

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