In as much as we are all looking forward to a lasting solution to combat indiscriminate tree felling and Commercial Charcoal burning in the Gonja Kingdom (Savannah Regional), there is the need for us to be mindful of the important role Palaces play in the region instead of dragging their good name into the mud.
There is more to it than what we are thinking. We must admit that some Traditional Areas are doing their best in the fight against charcoal burning but we can’t generalized the whole Gonjaland.
There are so many factors on why many ban letters issued by Jakpa Palace and some Palaces in the Kingdom failed.
Some of the reasons are Lack of education; poverty, Greed; Lack of jobs for the Youth & Women; the Love for quick money; Lack of control of the land by some chiefs, unknown settlers and so on.
Everyone must bear with me that it is a fact that each traditional area has its peculiar problems.
Chiefs, Politicians, stakeholders, Opinion leaders, the Youth must all come together to fight for a better tomorrow and stop the blame game.
A study on the economic importance of charcoal to rural livelihoods has shown that charcoal is the second primary source of income after crop production, and accounts for 17% of total household income in the region.
This Charcoal business in recent times provided significant cash incomes to the highest income households and its production appears to be the most frequently mentioned coping strategy against shocks associated with crop failure, illness and cattle invasion.
Many narratives are associated with charcoal production and its livelihood and environmental impacts such as deforestation and forest degradation.
Its production has periodically witnessed temporary bans, coupled with attempts to substitute charcoal with Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) as a results of emerging fuel wood crisis.
However, recent checks portray charcoal production as an important livelihood option for rural households (women/youth) with 35% of charcoal producers in the forest savannah zone of Ghana depending entirely on charcoal for household income.
I therefore recommend that policy makers should identify and target the poor in any pro-poor natural resource based interventions to avoid elite capture by the rich.
The restructuring of the committed should include the paramount chiefs of the various traditional areas, forestry commission, game and wild life division, Police , leadership of GPRTU, and the media, when this is done things will get better.
By Haruna Abudulai Obey
28th May, 2020.