Findings by the United Nation’s (UN’s) Convention to Combat Desertification indicates that twelve million people die annually due to water shortages or contaminated drinking water.
The findings also revealed that the world’s drinking water supplies have fallen by almost two thirds since 1950 while desertification is threatening the livelihoods of one billion people out of which 135 million people have already been rendered homeless.
Land is becoming a scarce resource since one quarter of the earth’s surface (an area of over 3.6 billion hectares) is threatened by desertification.
Professor Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, said this in a speech read on his behalf during the World Day to Combat Drought and Desertification at Siiru in the Nadowli-Kaleo District of the Upper West Region.
He said this is a concern as the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation revealed that some 83 per cent of Sub-Saharan African people depended on the land for their livelihood.
Prof Frimpong Boateng said currently 40 per cent of soils in Africa were degraded and in turn contributed to desertification.
He said it was worth noting that Ghana’s natural resources are been depleted at an alarming rate, adding that more than 50 per cent of the original forest area has been converted to agricultural land.
Stocks of timber and non-timber forest products were decreasing rapidly while wildlife populations and biodiversity are in serious decline, he said.
“Recent estimates of the cost of environmental degradation suggests that the equivalent of 10 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is lost annually through unsustainable management of the country’s forests, land resources, wildlife, and fisheries and through health costs related to water supply and sanitation, and indoor and outdoor air pollution”, he said.
Prof Frimpong Boateng said deforestation, unsustainable farming practices, overgrazing, urbanization, population growth, climate change and stripping the land of resources like natural gas, oil, or mineral mining, were some of the activities leading to desertification in the country.
He said the management of Ghana’s Natural resources and the environment had a key role to play in the nation’s socio-economic development and called on all citizens to ensure judicious use of the country’s land resources.
In 1994, the United Nation’s General Assembly declared June 17, as the “World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought” to help promote public awareness on the issue.
The International theme for the 2017 World Day to Combat Desertification is: “Our home, Our land, Our future”.