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Illegal mining to cause future water shortage

May 30, 2016, 9:03 a.m.

Deputy-Chief of Staff, Johnny Osei Kofi, says if the illegal mining activities in the country’s forest reserves continue indiscriminately as is currently being witnessed, the country will be at risk of importing water from its neighbours.

He said if the activities continue the country may have to desalinate sea water to supply its populace, if the forests from where many rivers and streams take their sources from are not properly conserved.

Mr. Osei Kofi was speaking at the launch of the 5th Forestry Week and Greening Ghana Day in Accra last week.

The week-long celebrations were on the theme ‘Forests and Water for Sustaining Lives and Livelihoods’; the commemoration was meant to provide an opportunity to educate the public on the relationship between forests and water-bodies, which are essential elements for lives and livelihoods of mankind.

Mr. Osei Kofi indicated that the forests and wildlife continue to face serious threats of degradation due to the aforementioned factors which eventually lead to the drying-up of many water-bodies.

“We must do something or we will be importing drinking water,” he said, adding “If care is not taken, we will be importing water in the next five years; or we will have to go the expensive way of using sea water.”

He proposed an inter-ministerial collaboration among the ministries of Lands and Natural Resources; Interior; Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation; as well as Chieftaincy and Traditional Affairs to strategise in order to end the menace.

“We must do this to save our forests and water-bodies; if we don’t act fast, in five years water resources in this country will suffer,” he stated.

He indicated that government has advanced in discussions to use some of the forest reserves as military training sites in order to protect the forests, and also to provide security for the communities around the reserves.

The Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Nii Osah Mills, said water and forests are essential needs for every household in Ghana and all over the world; and therefore any effort to preserve the resources in any form will mean preserving them for the people and their livelihood.

Osah Mills noted that “Water is the most vital element of all natural resources and essential to life. But availability and quality of fresh water in many regions of the world is increasingly endangered by overuse, misuse and pollution”.

The minister said due to growing imbalances between water supply and demand all over the world, especially in developing countries, there is an increasing need for ensuring adequate water quality and quantity.

He emphasised that, “Forests have a close relationship to our water resources, and hence sustainable forest management is of vital importance for the supply of good-quality fresh water; protection against natural hazards like floods or soil erosion; and for combatting desertification”.

He observed that the greatest challenge facing the nation presently is how to preserve forests and water resources to ensure they continue to provide their economic, social, cultural and environmental services to the current and future generations.

Source: B&FT