Wildfires are known to cause severe damage to property and increase substantially carbon concentration in the atmosphere. Wildfires are one of the few natural contributors to climate change. In Ghana, there no significant wildfires but instead, there are bush fires – caused by deliberate human actions. Bush fires were initially a high threat to the agricultural sector. About a decade ago, Ghana received support towards bush burning campaigns and education programs. Following that, there was a quick reduction regarding the frequency of bush fires.
In 2016, as Ghana and other tropical countries experience the dry season (harmattan), there has been a sudden increase in bush fire occurrence and even, domestic fire hazards. In January, there were severe fire outbreaks at one of the country’s largest market places (Kumasi Central Market). A lot of food stuffs, clothing, cash, sophisticated items, and market commodities were destroyed – rendering hundreds jobless and vulnerable. Preceding this sad news, there were minor cases of fire outbreaks in urban centers and bush fires in rural areas.
In most rural areas, bush fires are caused by farmers who smoke during work on farmlands, others who set fire to burn a small portion of their bushy plots and usage of fire to hunt rats. These practices are much known to rural areas, especially, farming communities. In the process of hunting or setting up fire to cook while farming, the dry leaves catches fire and spreads.
Ghana’s environmental restoration, protection and conservation is relatively minimal. There is a need for more committed environmental leaders to channel substantial resources to help curb all unfriendly lifestyles that deplete environmental resources and degrade environmental quality. In view of this, IDEAS for Ghana has included education on bush fires as part of their upcoming environmental sanitation presentations. When we teach our young ones to love nature, they will not only love but grow to live in harmony with nature.
– Joshua Amponsem, IDEAS For Ghana Country Director