The Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) has called on the public to support the fight against bushfires this harmattan season, saying the country has since 2020, recorded a total number of 3,553 cases. Deputy Chief Fire Officer (DCFO) James Owusu- Agyei, the Director of Rural Fires GNFS, said 615 cases of bushfires were recorded nationwide from January to September 2023. He said despite measures put in place by the GNFS to sustain and create awareness of the public on the impact of bushfires on Agriculture, Businesses, economy, and livelihood of affected people at the community, Regional and National level, the menace still raged on especially during the harmattan season, from November to March. DCFO Owusu- Agyei said this in a speech read on his behalf at a two-day training of trainers’ workshop on Community-Based Fire Management, organised by the Forum for Natural Regeneration (FONAR) for selected personnel of the rural fire departments of the Nabdam and Talensi Districts. ‘It is very obvious that the responsibility of controlling and managing bushfires no longer resides in the domain of the Service alone but rather on all stakeholders, community members and farmers,’ he added. FONAR is a Ghanaian environment focused non-governmental organisation that promotes ecological restoration, especially on degraded lands for improved livelihoods and poverty reduction among rural subsistence smallholder farmers. The workshop, which formed part of FONAR`s community bushfires management activities in the Nabdam and Talensi Districts, aimed at introducing the regional and select District personnel of the rural fire departments of the GNFS in the Upper East Region to Community- based Fire Management concepts and principles. It also aimed at strengthening the capacity of the personnel to deliver on their mandate and support FONAR`s community bushfire activities in the Nabdam and Talensi Districts. Assistant Chief Fire Officer One (ACFO 1) Anthony Gyasi Boateng, the Upper East Regional Fire Commander of the GNFS, acknowledged that the service in collaboration with FONAR, over the last year had benefited from joint community durbars, public education, and capacity building. He said the fight against bushfires required inter-agency collaboration and FONAR was not only doing just that but was also researching and devising modern ways of controlling bushfires to reduce its negative impact on lives and properties. Mr Sumaila S. Saaka, the Executive Director of FONAR, noted that though Ghana had a good policy on bushfire, the law that was supposed to support the policy to be effective was outdated, given the current trends. ‘The law is punitive, criminalizes and as a result it is difficult to implement it, thus the PNDC Law 229 and so is time we revise the law to conform with the current wildfire policy objectives ‘. He sated He said the country was likely to encounter more bushfires in the future and called on the government to provide the necessary resources by resourcing agencies like the GNFS, responsible for managing bushfires, to be able to implement good aspect of the current law and bushfire policies. Mr Saaka said his outfit was committed to working with other agencies including the GNFS to educate communities about the impact of bushfires and how they could manage bushfires from becoming disastrous.
Source: Ghana News Agency