Atewa Heroes Walk 95km for Water: No Bauxite Mining!
The theme for the 2018 edition of World Water Day, focused on highlighting the importance of nature-based solutions to addressing the water challenges in the 21st Century. The chosen theme- “Nature for Water”, hinged on the fact that, damaged ecosystems affect the quantity and quality of water available for the human consumption. The Atewa Forest Reserve is one such ecosystem that provides water to over 5 million people in Ghana. Currently, the forest is being targeted as part of areas to be mined for bauxite in Government’s $15 billion deal with the Chinese in a bid to develop an integrated aluminum industry. Though pronouncements have been made by top leading government officials including the President and the Vice President, no one has seen details of the plans as yet.
95km Walk for Water
A group by name, Concerned Citizens of the Atewa Landscape, represented by civil society organizations, NGOs, Youth Groups, Interfaith Groups, Farmer Based Associations, Opinion Leaders and Community Leaders within the targeted forest landscape, organized a 6-day walk covering an estimated distance of 95km from the forest area to the capital city-Accra to protest against government’s intention to mine the forest reserve for Bauxite. The group numbering about 150 during the walk, presented petitions to several influential dignitaries including the King of the Akyem Abuakwa Traditional Area, Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panyin; the Executive Director of the Forestry Commission of Ghana, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie who expressed and shared in the position of the group to save Atewa Forest for Water. A Rocha Ghana is a proud supporter and member of this group.
The walk aimed at mobilizing and rallying citizen action to compel government to rescind plans to mine bauxite within the Atewa Forest Reserve due to its vital water provisioning services for over 5 million people in Ghana.
The 6-day Walk, symbolic of the Sustainable Development Goal 6 (Water& Sanitation) began on Saturday, March 17, 2018 climaxed on the 22nd of March, 2018 to coincide with the celebration of World Water Day. A final message calling on the President, His Excellency, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to rescind plans to mine Atewa forest for bauxite was read by the spokesperson of the group, Nana Ampem Darko- Amponsah.
“Removing this threat of bauxite development is the only option that will ensure Atewa Forest continues to fulfil its contribution to Ghana’s capacity to meet Goal 6 of the SDGs and to maintain its service as a ‘nature-based solution to the water challenges of the 21 century’ for 5 million and more Ghanaians over the long term”-Concerned Citizens of the Atewa Landscape
The group, also suggested in their statement to the President to designate the forest reserve as a National Park due to its value and ecosystem services it provides to support agriculture, businesses and households in general. Other sustainable forest land use and green development options were also presented as initiatives that will guarantee the continuous availability of water supply, protect biodiversity, create jobs and enhance livelihoods in the medium to long term. The group has showed strong determination to see to it that, the forest landscape is protected against all forms of threats including bauxite mining.The people have demonstrated the importance of water to their lives.
Now, will the President of Ghana, show equal commitment and walk the talk to secure our environment and water?