By geographical location, Ghana lies south of Burkina Faso and further from the Sahara desert and yet each year, their rivers and dams get flooded and cause headache for some of the Ghanaian communities with some times, unspecified loss of lives; what is the secret?
Are Ghanaians so more sinful than the Burkinabies that God has turned His wrought against us? As a Christian, my answer is No; our woes are: self infliction, ineptitude, and envy or greed.
It appears the average Ghanaian has no concern for any action or inaction that does not affect him /her personally no matter the hazardous consequences on the country as a whole. Hunters burn bushes for rats and rabbits for their personal enjoyments. The local authorities look on unconcerned. Farmers cut trees and vegetation and set fires without control just to get free land to cultivate their crops. The local authorities look on unconcerned. Women cut trees and shrubs indiscriminately for fire wood. The local authorities do not appear to take notice. Fulani nomads move their cattle into the country to over graze the vegetation and sometimes burn the grasses for fresh ones to grow for their animals. The local authorities look on unconcerned. Non of these societal elements consider the consequences of their activities on the environment. Everybody thinks it is the responsibility of somebody else or central government. The Chiefs and DCEs who can effectively managed these hazards, look on unconcerned and the burning of bushes are now a common feature even into the forest zone of the country. Consequently, the drift of the desert southwards is real and will continues unabated if these lackadaisical attitudes go unchecked.
Historical records indicate that the first major project Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah envisaged for Ghana was to halt the drift of desertification southwards. There was vigorous campaign against bush fires and every community had a bush fire squads educating the people the consequences of continuous burning bushes in the country could have on the environment. Everybody went to sleep after the CPP was over thrown in a senseless coup. Since then, I have not seen or heard of any campaign against bush burning. Leadership has not seen the need to go back and look at the development programs the great visionary leader of all time laid down for the country. Indeed leadership has failed to think outside the box as far as the management of the environment is concerned.
Envy and Greed
The last but not the least action or inaction that has acted as a catalyst to the desertification of Ghana are envy and greed. Any program or project conceptualized to benefit the generality of the country often fails because individuals put in responsible positions to manage such programs usually think of themselves, their family members, their friends, school mates and concubines first; to the detriment of the country. Funds voted for tree planting end up in individual pockets.
Greed has indeed brought the country to it’s present state; that is, stagnation in development, misery and poverty, draught and desertification. It is very important to give one or two examples to buttress the unfortunate situation the country finds itself in the hands of greedy leaders down the lane. The very sad mind boggling and memorable debacle of all time is the SADA project of greening the north. The people who were put in charge were not from Mars, Jupiter or the moon. They are people born into this desert threatened environment with the neck breaking poverty and deprivation and yet did not see the real benefits to the masses beyond their personal greed. The news papers were washed with tantalizing stories of people building many masons, buying cars, buying tractors and marrying many wives from the project fund. In conclusion, the Burkina Faso abundance rain fall story is as a result of commitment, enforcement of laws and love for their country.
If the contemporary Ghanaians wish to leave the country as our forefathers left it for us or improve upon it for the unborn generation, then we should make a paradigm shift from placing our personal interest above the national interest. God bless you who has resolved to place the country first in all that matters to you and God bless Ghana.
By: Charles Mambuliya