Workshop on 'Nature-based Solution' to flood and drought opens in Accra

1.21396635 Participants at the opening workshop

Thu, 17 Feb 2022 Source: GNA

A three-day national technical workshop on “Nature-based Solution Capacity Building and Development of National and Basin-wide Projects” has been opened in Accra.

The workshop, which is the 6th of its kind, was previously held in Burkina Faso, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali and Togo with the aim at implementing a project titled: “Integrating Flood and Drought Management and Early Warning for Climate Change Adaptation in the Volta Basin.”

It is being implemented by a consortium, comprising the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the Volta Basin Authority (VBA) and the Global Water Partnership - West Africa (GWP-WA)

The project, which is being funded by the Adaptation Fund, was started in June 2019 and would end in June 2023.

One of its activities include evaluation of indicators and environmental services offered by ecosystems in connection with the prediction and management of disaster risks.

This activity emphasizes the “nature-based solutions” approach to support flood and drought forecasting and management processes. It builds on and enhances the characteristic functions of ecosystems.

Madam Cecilia Abena Dapaah, the Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources, in a welcoming address read on her behalf, said; “Water is our culture and life and therefore it must be valued and protected.”

She said unfortunately, in the last couple of years, water in its clean natural state was becoming a rare commodity and that the pristine environment that used to preserve the quality of land and water that serve as a living symbol had been compromised.

“The measures that our forefathers instituted to protect the sources of water and even maintain its quality had become redundant in the face of modernity. The vast majority of the wastewater from our homes, industry, and agriculture flows back to nature without being treated or re-used, polluting the environment,” she stated.

Madam Dapaah said an estimated 65 per cent of Ghana’s natural wetlands had been lost as a result of human activity and most times wetlands were viewed as wastelands rather than the vital part of the country’s water resources.

She noted that the environmental damage together with climate change was driving water-related crisis around the country and floods, droughts and water pollution were all made worse by degraded vegetation, soil, rivers and lakes.

The Volta Basin in Ghana is endowed with considerable natural resources, however its resources have been adversely affected by extreme climate change phenomenon such as floods and drought while the situation had been aggravated by rapid population growth and urbanization, pollution from illegal mining and agricultural domestic and industrial waste.

“These are weakening the biophysical and functional integrity of the natural resources and threatening the survival of thousands of people who depend directly on the Basin’s natural resources such as water, land, and forest, she said.

Madam Dapaah said: “It, therefore, stands to reason that we should look for pragmatic solutions and actions to among others re-forest our degraded riverbanks, encourage restoration of our lost wetlands and re-connect our rivers and flood plains to promote recession agriculture to improve livelihoods.”

To this end, she stated, that as recent as 2018, the United Nations adopted the message “The Answer is in Nature” to draw attention to not only to prevent further damage to sensitive ecosystems and the aquatic environment, but also to provide an opportunity for managers, practitioners, users, and decision-makers on water and environment to explore no regret nature-based solutions to the challenges faced by countries in the 21st century.

“Fortunately, we in Ghana have set our priorities towards addressing the broad range of issues through promoting partnerships for the protection and conservation of water resources through the use cleaner and efficient technologies, effective waste management and sound land management and agriculture practices while adopting sustainable practices to avoid damage to critical natural capital and irreversible ecological processes.

“There have been research initiatives in the Northern Regions to demonstrate the importance and benefits of natural infrastructure as nature-based solution such as wetlands, mangroves, flood plains, and buffers for climate change adaptation and sustainable development.

Madam Dapaah said the Buffer Zone Policy was being used to guide the pragmatic and coordinated creation of vegetative buffers for the preservation and functioning of our water bodies and vital ecosystems while at the same time, providing economic benefits for the populace.

“It is also heartwarming to note that practical action is being taken to develop public, private partnerships to address the deteriorating Volta Delta through result-oriented programmes of restoring lost mangroves, improving the livelihoods of local resource users, biodiversity, and enhancing coastal defense,” she said.

The Minister said there was the need to do more in the application of innovative and ecologically sound nature-based solutions in plans, programmes, and projects at the local, national and transboundary levels, especially in the context of floods and droughts.

“It is, therefore, reassuring that this national workshop under the “Integrating flood and drought management and early warning for climate change adaptation in the Volta Basin project has come at an opportune time to build the capacity of key stakeholders in nature-based solutions with the view to develop bankable projects in the Ghana section and the whole Volta Basin for support,” she stated.

She assured the Adaptation Fund and the project partners that Ghana would spare no effort in contributing to the implementation of the projects that would be identified and developed during the workshop.

She expressed gratitude to the World Meteorological Organisation and the Global Water Partnership – West Africa for their continue support to the Volta Basin Authority and to all partners including the International Union for Conservation of Nature for their contribution to the programme.

Madam Dapaah encouraged the participants to combine their knowledge that they would acquire during the workshop with their valuable experiences and commitment to provide productive ideas that would manifest into bankable projects towards effective and sustainable nature-based solution to the water security, climate change and disaster risk challenges in Ghana.

Source: GNA
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