Home > Environment > District Assemblies adopt SEA’s in Medium Term Development Plans in Ghana

District Assemblies adopt SEA’s in Medium Term Development Plans in Ghana

The National Development Planning Committee (NDPC) of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning has made it mandatory for all Medium Term Development Plans submitted by all the 138 district assemblies in Ghana to include an environmental component.

Medium Term Development Plans that do not include an environmental component are not funded by the NDPC. This forms part of efforts to check environmental degradation by ensuring that district assemblies adopt development strategies that are environmentally friendly.

Consequently, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has provided capacity building training programmes for all district assemblies in the Northern Region on how to input Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) needs into their Medium Term Development Plans.

Briefing ‘The Advocate’, Mr. Abu Iddrissu, Acting Northern Regional Director of the EPA, said “because their annual budgetary allocation is tied to the SEA, all the district assemblies in the Northern Region have developed Medium Term Development Plans based on SEA tools without which they would not get some part of their funding.”

He said the capacity building training programmes were undertaken as part of the EPA’s Strategic District Environment Programme as well as their Comprehensive District Outreach Programme under which they visit district assemblies to discuss environmental issues with them.

Under the two programmes, the EPA also undertakes integrated district visits where they visit five core environmentally sensitive communities in each district. The visits are normally carried out in conjunction with members of the District Environmental Management Committee.

The EPA then designs appropriate actions in response to environmental problems encountered in those communities which most often are also captured in their community action plans. The EPA also draws the attention of the assemblies to those problems and provides strategic mechanisms for resolving them.

Mr. Iddrissu said the EPA also carries out Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Auditing.” We identify the different categories of development projects that impact on the environment such as the establishment of petrol stations, telecommunication masts, road projects, dams, educational infrastructure, clinics and hospitals. We inspect and register these projects and make technical inferences. We then pass them through a technical review committee and we certify and give them the conditionality under which they have to operate.”

The EPA carries out investigation of environmental complaints in all districts, regardless of whether they emanate from the communities themselves or from visits to the communities for which they provide technical backstopping, education and enforcement of laws to resolve the situation.

Some of such complaints include the misuse of agro –chemicals. Since it is the duty of the EPA to register and monitor the activities of agro-chemical and pesticide dealers, certify them, and provide training it intervened by by organising some training programmes.

Thus, a two day comprehensive training workshop was organized for the Ghana Agricultural Inputs Dealers Association (GAIDA) in conjunction with the International Fertilizer Development Centre ) IFDC  in Tamale and Yendi.  A total of 140 agro- input dealers in the region were trained, comprising agro-chemical retail dealers and agro-chemical users such as farmers.  

Mr Azimah Lansah Abdul-Rahman, District Desk Officer for EPA in the Savelugu Nanton District, said as far back as the year 2000, the EPA and the Institute of Local Government, organized a two week intensive training course on environmental management for all district assemblies in Northern Ghana.

He said they were taken through all the thematic areas in the activities of the EPA.  Following the workshop, he visited schools and communities in the district to discuss with them issues on the environment during which it was uncovered that the district had several environmental related problems.

The District Planning officer who is the team leader of the District Environmental Management Committee, incorporated environmental issues into their Medium Term Development Plan which normally has a four or five year lifespan depending on available funds and the time frame for the  projects. A task force was set up under the District Environmental Management Committee to respond swiftly to reports on allegations of activities that degrade the environment. 

Mr Addul Rahman said the services of the Police Force is sometimes sought to restore law and order on environmental issues in the communities where necessary. Such reports are also collated to enable the district to deliberate on them and adopt appropriate action.       

He named some members of the District Environmental Management team as National Disaster Management Committee (NADMO), the Gender Desk office, the Ghana Education Service (GES), the Department of  Social Welfare, the District Community Development Officer, the Environmental Health and Sanitation Unit, representatives of traditional rulers and the Town and Country Planning most of  whom already have baseline information about the environment and are given further training.

He said Community Environmental Management Committees have been set up and have been earmarked for training under the Ghana Environmental Management Project (GEMP) which was initiated in 2008 with funding from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

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