The World Bank (WB) is angry at Ghana’s Parliament and for that matter government of Ghana.
This is because in spite of the millions of dollars invested in the conservation of the Atewa Forest Reserve; it has proceeded to release the natural reserve for bauxite mining.
But, the WB avers that Ghana stands to lose a valuable worth of wildlife if the reserve is mined.
According to the WB, the overall goal for its million-dollar investment in the Atewa Forest Investment Programme (FIP)-financed activities in Ghana is to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, while reducing poverty and conserving biodiversity.
Ghana’s FIP Programme was designed in 2012 with three components being implemented by World Bank, African Development Bank and IFC.
These projects were designed to work together in a pragmatic, landscape level approach, managed by the ministry of lands and natural resources to reduce pressure on forests through an integrated landscape approach.
The Multilateral Development Banks’ (MDB’s) components were also geographically positioned on the ground to avoid overlap and duplication.
According to a WB letter to Ghana dated August 9, 218, last year alone the country’s effort at rolling back the increasing deforestation and forest degradation received a huge boost with the launch of a five-year project targeting forest-rich communities in two regions—Western and Brong-Ahafo.
The US$5.5 million project also funded by the World Bank has been piloted in 51 communities and it involves providing the people with sustainable alternative livelihood, adoption of climate smart practices and strong extension service support to farmers.
It also targeted those whose activities pose danger to the climate—illegal chainsaw operators, charcoal burners, illegal small-scale miners and farmers.
The Forestry Commission, in collaboration with the Global Environment Facility, an affiliate of the World Bank, is also sponsoring a high forest bio-diversity conservation project in the Atewa Forest Reserve.
And this multi-million cedi project is primarily aimed at protecting major rivers— Densu, Birim and Ayensu—which all take their sources from the Atewa forest reserve and flow into the Weija Dam, which provides the water requirements of residents of the western part of Accra.
It is also designed to restore the forest cover of the reserve and serve as a poverty reduction strategy.
Under the project, over 20 communities bordering the three rivers have been mobilised and supplied with coconut and bamboo seedlings for planting along the banks.
About 10,000 coconut and bamboo seedlings have so far been supplied to communities including Kibi, Adadientem, Ahwiniase, Akwadum, Apapamu, Asikamu, Nsutam, Odumase, Potrase and Sakyedumase.
The World Bank in November 2013 also sponsored an international summit on saving the Atewa Range Forest Reserve at the Coconut Grove Regency Hotel in Accra, on the theme: “Atewa Forest, A Heritage At A Cross Road, What Future?”
The letter reminded Ghana that delegates at the two-day summit agreed that in view of the importance of the Atewa forest reserve in terms of its water, agriculture, biodiversity, ecosystem services and the mineral resources, the ministry of lands and natural resources should- as a matter of urgency- designate Atewa Range Forest Reserve as a National Park.
Equally, the summit agreed that in the short-term, the government of Ghana should abrogate all mineral ore prospecting licenses in operation and respect the mining laws and guidelines by ceasing all future mining plans for Atewa.
The letter further averred that the adverse effects of mining bauxite in the Atewa forest reserve far-outweighed its benefits.
It would be recalled that the recent mid-year budget review, the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, stated that Ghana’s infrastructure deficit, which was in the region of US$30 billion, would be adequately tackled with the agreement that will see government leverage the country’s bauxite deposits.
Following that intention, Parliament passed into law the Ghana Bauxite Integrated Aluminum Industry Act, 2018, which is the legal framework to take opportunity of the vast bauxite resource available to help in economic development of the country.
One of such actions to close the infrastructure deficit is the Sinohydro bauxite – infrastructure barter deal between Ghana and China worth US$ 2 billion to mine bauxite at Nyinahin.
This is as part of an earlier memorandum between Ghana and China where Ghana was only going to leverage 5% of our country’s bauxite resources to the Chinese who are giving us $15 billion over a period.
Story: Kofi OWUSU TAWIAH
Writer’s email: email@example.com