Koforidua, – The Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) in the Eastern Region has launched the 2021 anti-bushfire campaign and passing-out ceremony of fire volunteers, praising fire volunteers for helping to decrease fire outbreaks in the region.

This year’s anti-bushfire campaign was themed: “Bush fires, a menace to planting for food and jobs, consolidating food systems in Ghana,” highlighting the importance of preventing fires for food security.

Ms Jennifer N. Y. Quaye, Regional Commander of Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS), said about 1.7 million hectares of land got burnt in the early months of 2021 in Ghana during the Harmattan season, a period between January and March.

This figure is buttressed by the Global Forest Watch.

She urged all Ghanaians to refuse burning, group haunting, burning of farm slashes, cattle rearing, smoking and honey harvesting.

These activities have been identified as some of the leading root causes of bush fires, which when avoided could help safeguard Ghana’s vegetation.

Ms Quaye, talking about the effects of bushfires, said could cause multiple direct impacts on the lives and properties, water resources and indirectly on government budgets.

“Bush fires can also cause loss of lives to humans and animal alike, erosion and subsequent sedimentation of creeks and wetlands,” she said.

“As such, bush fires does not end with direct on the affected but everyone bears some inevitable consequences,” she added. And for that reason urged Ghanaians to make it a collective responsibility to fight against bush fires and not to leave it in the hands of firefighters alone.

Records show that there were 559 total bush fires in the past year with which bush fires were 165 representing the highest categories of fire outbreaks in the Eastern Region.

But, this year, bush fires decreased from 165 to 22, according to GNFS, from January to March which represents 87 per cent decrease from the 90 per cent total fire outbreaks in 2020.

Ms Quaye said attributed the decrease to hard-working fire volunteers who dedicated their lives, time and efforts to support the Ghana National Fire Service and other stakeholders in the fight against bush fires.

She, therefore, thanked fire volunteers for their assistance in controlling, reducing and managing bush fires within the region.

Ms Comfort Asante, MCE, New Juaben North Municipal Assembly, who spoke on behalf of the Eastern Regional Minister, Mr Seth Acheampong, also congratulated the fire volunteers.

He further commended the regional fire commander and her team for the impressive campaign and passing out ceremony for the fire volunteers.

“The campaign also enables us to respond effectively and timely to the incidents of bushfires and help to do quick assessment of damage caused by bushfires to the environments, lives and properties,” she said.

She said the theme for the event resonated well with the planting for food and jobs initiative, “arguably, one of the most popular and well educated flagship programme of Nana Akuffo Addo.”

The government launched a countrywide food programme to promote food security and ensure immediate availability of food crops for the market and also provide jobs for the teeming unemployed.

The MCE said bush fires were inimical to the planting for food and jobs programme and therefore called on stakeholders, particularly farmers, headsmen, palm wine tappers and game hunters to be very cautious of their activities.

She encouraged municipal and district assemblies, traditional authorities to come out with by-laws to control activities that spark bush fires.

Nana Baffuor Nyantakyi Tutu Boateng, Kontihene for New Juaben Traditional Area, who chaired the event, also advised Ghanaians not to take bush fires as a joke as their effects could destroy the government policy on planting for food and jobs and lead to severe hunger as it was in 1983.

He also called on everyone to help fire volunteers in their work towards the prevention of fire outbreaks but added the volunteers must be well resourced with the requisite firefighting equipment and tools.

Source: Ghana News Agency

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