Curbing bushfires: FONAR launches campaign in basic schools 

By Anthony Adongo Apubeo 

Gorogo (U/E), Nov 5, GNA – The Forum for Natural Regeneration (FONAR), an environmentally focused advocacy organisation, has launched a campaign in basic schools in the Talensi District of the Upper East Region, to prevent and control bushfires and protect the environment. 

The campaign dubbed, “Bushfires Destroy Lives, You Can Prevent It,” seeks to involve children in the quest to prevent and control bushfires at the community level and to instill environmental protection values in them. 

The ‘School Children, bushfires prevention awareness campaign’, would be implemented in 15 basic schools in the district in collaboration with the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) and the Talensi District Directorate of the Ghana Education Service. 

At a brief ceremony at Gorogo Primary School to launch the campaign, Mr Sumaila Saaka, the Executive Director, FONAR, said the campaign was aimed at contributing to the success of the 2022/2023 National Anti-Bushfire Campaign on the theme: “My Environment, my life: Stop Bushfires now.” 

Mr Saaka said although bushfires had been used to promote subsistence agriculture activities in farming communities over the years, it had contributed to many environmental challenges, including deforestation, soil erosion, desertification and climate change. 

He said a recent World Bank Ghana Country report on climate change and development indicated that Northern Ghana would continue to face water scarcity, increased droughts and soil erosion. 

The report further revealed that about 90 per cent of the total area of the five Northern Savannah regions was prone to annual bushfires, posing threat to food security, livelihoods and increasing poverty. 

 Mr Saaka advocated for a collective approach from all stakeholders to put the menace under control and contribute to protecting the environment. 

“Although bushfires are difficult to prevent altogether, proper management and control can reduce occurrence and spread, or atleast minimise the damage that they can cause,” he said. 

The Executive Director noted that children had been proven by researchers to be active agents in tackling environmental issues, including bushfires and underscored the need for them to be educated to appreciate the good and bad of fire and contribute to preventing and controlling it. 

“It is for this reason that FONAR and our partners are launching this school kids bushfire awareness campaign to increase knowledge of school children and teachers about bushfire hazards, raise awareness among school children on the dangers of bushfires and increase their understanding and ability to participate in bushfire prevention and control measures in their schools and communities,” he said. 

The Executive Director appealed to the Government to develop educational materials at all levels to promote bushfire awareness and review the current bushfire control and prevention law (PNDCL 229 OF 1990) to involve traditional authorities in addressing the challenge. 

He said, “we also urge the District Assemblies to enact bushfire prevention and control bylaws as required by the law and implement them in collaboration with local communities.” 

Divisional Officer III, Mohammed Musah, Officer in charge of the Upper East Regional Rural Fires Department, GNFS, noted that the Talensi District had been one of major districts recording high numbers of rural fires annually. 

The Officer who took the pupils through causes, effects, control and prevention of bushfires encouraged them to disseminate the information to help fight the menace. 

Mr Dauda Ibrahim, the Gorogo Primary School Headteacher, expressed optimism the campaign would help instill environmental protection values in the children. 

FONAR, an advocate of the Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration with funding support from the Awaken Tree Foundation of Austria, had formed eco-clubs in the 15 schools and trained the pupils to play a crucial role to restore degraded lands.