The Project Manager of A Rocha Ghana, Mr Emmanuel Akom, has called on the government and other stakeholders to turn their attention to the Atiwa Forest Reserve to protect the water bodies within it.
According to him, millions of people in the Central, Eastern and particularly the Greater Accra regions depended on clean drinking water provided by the Atiwa Forest Reserve from three rivers, namely the Birim, Densu and Ayensu.
He said over 70 per cent of Accra’s population received water from the Weija reservoir that sourced its water from Atiwa through the Densu River, stressing that it was necessary for the government and other stakeholders to protect the watershed the forest provided.
Mr Akom made the call during a media tour of the Atiwa Forest Reserve to mark World Water Day.
World Water Day is observed annually on March 22 as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating sustainable management of freshwater resources.
Atiwa has long been recognised as a nationally important reserve because its mountains contain the headwaters of the three river systems which serve as the source of domestic, agricultural and industrial water for communities in parts of Accra and Koforidua.
Threat on Atiwa Forest
Mr Akom observed that it might be impossible for people to drink from rivers and water bodies due to pollution from illegal mining operations.
Other concerns include land clearance for farming and the damage to ecosystem functioning, illegal logging, change in tourism potential of the area, among others challenges.
He said the pursuit of large-scale industrial mining could be considered as the major threat to the water provision function of the forest.
Beyond that, he said, the lack of meaningful participation by local stakeholders in decision making and management of the Atiwa Forest Reserve, together with the lack of direct economic benefits from the reserve, was the main driver of illegal activities.
A Rocha Ghana, an environmental non-governmental organisation (NGO), and other organisations, with support from the Dutch Embassy Ghana, are set to implement the the project, dubbed: “Living water from the mountain: Protecting Atiwa water resources”, to address the challenges facing the reserve.
Source: Graphic Online