With just one rainfall season, the upper west region happens to be one of Ghana’s driest regions with temperatures sometimes reaching as high as 40 degrees Celsius. Characteristic of this region also is its dessert like lands, almost always deciduous plants and the continuous loss of its forests and scarce plants to the burning of charcoal and wood fuel, which is the case because of the low economic stature of the people.
On 10/04/17, I visited the Sigri R/C junior high school in the Jirapa district of the Upper West Region with a few friends of mine, the school has a population of about 150 pupils. We interacted on understanding their ecosystem, shared with each other how we could live in harmony in our ecosystem, challenges and prospects while receiving and addressing feedbacks and concerns.
I read from the tunza generation toolkit, the definition of ecosystem… which stated that an ecosystem includes all of the living things in a given area, interacting with each other, and also with their non-living environments. I further invited students to list items they deemed part of their ecosystem, and I was presented with an endless list. Following this, I made a presentation on some basic facts pertaining on the global ecosystem, stating among others that, the world had about 1.9 million identified species with about 10-100 million of such species yet to be identified. In the next session, I sought to help the students practically understand the importance of each specie to a harmonious and successful living in an ecosystem, by leading them in the web game.
In the web game, 15 students representing different elements of our ecosystem including the sun, forests, birds, other animals etc. were made to bind themselves with a rope in a circular manner, forming a very rigid and perfect structure, and gradually the components were taken out to portray extinction, the immediate observation was how weakened and uncoordinated the web became, with this in mind I explained to them the importance of each specie in keeping our ecosystem in place.
Tree logging and charcoal burning
This is a very common practise in this part of Ghana, I used the opportunity to explain to them the danger they are subjecting their future to if they continue cutting down the few plants available, for charcoal and other reasons without replacing them. To help them relate very well with the importance of these trees, I asked that they define photosynthesis, which states how only green plants are able to trap the sun’s energy for further consumption by every other organism.
I did emphasise that, per my observations I had no doubt that, without any proper intervention they were going to lose about 40% of their tree cover to these logging activities in the next decade, I then encouraged them to be true ambassadors of change who will ensure they plant and take care of trees to replace those they’ve already lost and are losing as a result of these activities.
Establishing new trees at no cost
This process begins with having a backyard nursery of your own. I then took them through how to use local plastic wastes (material) for nursing seeds and subsequently transplanting the seedlings onto the field after a few months. After showing them this simple and cheap process of making more seedlings available, I encouraged each one of them to have a nursery with a minimum of 5 seedlings for further transplanting and I’m only hopeful that the majority of them embark on this challenge.
In the final session of this interaction, I solicited from participants their concerns, contribution and questions which were all addressed in a way or the other and then presentation of pens and other promotional materials were made to all final year students and other students who made submissions during the period of engagement.
UNTILL YOU DIG A HOLE, YOU PLANT A TREE, YOU WATER IT AND MAKE IT SURVIVE, YOU HAVEN’T DONE ANYTHING, YOU ARE JUST TALKING
By: Bornaventure Kwame Takpah, (AfEI)