Ghana launches project to restore landscapes and sanitize small-scale mining sector

Ghana launches project to restore landscapes and sanitize small-scale mining sector

The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology, and Innovation (MESTI) with support from the World Bank, have launched the Ghana Landscape Restoration and Small-Scale Mining Project (GLRSSMP).

The project seeks to strengthen the integration of the country’s natural resources and its management to increase the benefits to communities in targeted savannah and cocoa forest landscapes.

It will also support sustainable land, water, and forest management initiatives in climate-vulnerable target landscapes and support the formalization of small-scale mining.

The GLRSSMP geographically targets two landscapes: the Northern Savannah Zone (including the Guinea Savannah ecological zone, the Sudan Savannah ecological zone, and the upper portions of the Transitional ecological zone); the cocoa forest landscape (including parts of the Forest ecological zone and the Pra River Basin).

The project will include a multi-sector approach to land management.

In August 2021, the World Bank approved $103.4 million to implement GLRSSMP. The financing includes an International Development Association (IDA) credit of $75 million and $28.4 million in grants from the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), the Extractive Global Programmatic Support (EGPS), and the Global Partnership for Sustainable and Resilient Landscapes Multi-Donor Trust Fund (PROGREEN).

The liberalization of Ghana’s mining laws in 1989, which legalized artisanal and small-scale mining with the fundamental goal of creating jobs and generating revenue, has evolved into an array of problematic circumstances.

Unsustainable and illegal use of lands for mining has gradually destroyed Ghana’s lands, leading to deforestation, loss of biodiversity, accelerated soil erosion and sedimentation, water and air pollution, and degradation of productive agricultural lands, including cocoa farms, among other environmental damage.

This has cost the nation over $6.3 billion annually, according to the World Bank’s Country Environmental Analysis (CEA) study conducted in 2017.

Although the cocoa industry in 2020 contributed almost GHC2.2 billion to Ghana’s GDP, cocoa farming in Ghana is threatened by land degradation, including illegal small-scale mining (galamsey) activities.

If natural resource extraction techniques and agricultural methods are not modified and the landscape restored, the base of Ghana’s rich natural resources will be destroyed without thoroughly exploring its benefits, rendering sustainable economic growth from the sector fruitless.

Unsustainable natural resource extraction practices increase communities’ vulnerability to the impacts of climate change and pose a significant threat to sustainable economic development.

“…We cannot ignore the state of our environment. We are endangering the very survival of our beautiful and blessed land… The dense forest, that was home to varied trees, plants and fauna, have largely disappeared,” President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said on 6th March 2017.

Since the Akufo-Addo administration took office in 2017, the government has demonstrated its commitment to addressing the threat of illegal, unsustainable mining practices and forest landscape degradation through an integrated approach.

In line with achieving this goal, the government embarked on several projects, including Sustainable Land and Water Management Project (SLWMP) and the Forest Investment Program (FIP). The Ghana Landscape Restoration and Small-Scale Mining Project is building on the positive results of the SLWMP and FIP.

“Let me reiterate that the Government of H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo supports small-scale mining because it can provide significant economic benefits, including jobs, to people and communities. We are committed to establishing and promoting an orderly, viable, sustainable and environmentally-sound small-scale mining industry, which is anchored with integrity,” said  Samuel A. Jinapor (MP), Minister, MLNR.

The GLRSSMP will capitalize on land-use planning for integrated landscape management to:

  • optimize land use
  • formalize artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) for sustainable mining
  • restore degraded lands
  • promote sustainable agricultural practices, and
  • strengthen sustainable management of forest landscapes for biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services.

The project will help develop healthy ecosystems that can play an essential role in mitigation, adaptation, and resilience to climate change. This will positively affect the cocoa industry and increase its impact on the country’s GDP.

“The project will help boost post-COVID-19 economic recovery, create jobs and secure livelihoods in some of the poorest parts of Ghana by focusing on agricultural productivity, ecosystems management and sustainable small-scale mining,” said World Bank Country Director, Pierre Laporte.

“Our current generation has the moral obligation to restore and sustainably manage the environment for the next generation. We may have wasted time, being selfish to an extent, but we can turn things around and strive to achieve a better, greener and healthier environment. It is my humble appeal that we all collectively make an effort to save the environment,” said, MESTI minister, Hon. Dr. Kwaku Afriyie, (MP); Minister, MESTI.

Ghana’s ASM sector has grown in size and significance over the last several years. Its contribution to job creation and the economy makes it one of the nation’s most important sectors, employing about a million people and supporting approximately 4.5 million more.

Agriculture employs over 50 percent of the population and provides more than 80 percent of the country’s food needs. The cocoa sector alone supports over a million households.

However, women working in ASM are especially marginalised. Women constitute about 6 percent of licensed operators and about 10 percent of concession holders.

Therefore, GLRSSMP is designed to help empower women and youth to garner roles in local-level forest and landscape management activities and create better income-generating opportunities. Over 250,000 people, including youth, women, farmers and artisanal miners, will benefit from the project.

GLRSSMP is also to help boost post-COVID-19 economic recovery, create jobs and secure livelihoods in some of the poorest parts of Ghana by focusing on agricultural productivity, ecosystems management and well-regulated the small-scale mining sector.

“Best practices dictate that development programs in the ASM sector should approach gender as a cross-cutting issue. Therefore, all our interventions in the ASM sector include efforts to reduce gender disparities in access to, control over, and benefit from resources; reduce gender-based violence in and around mine sites; and empower women and girls economically, socially and politically,” said MLNR, Hon. Samuel A. Jinapor (MP); Minister, MLNR.

Source: Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources