Organisation for Indigenous Initiatives and Sustainability (ORGIIS), a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) has called on the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) and the Ministry of Energy to as a matter of urgency implement the proposed energy cooking reform policy. The implementation would help arrest the spate of environmental degradation and mitigate the effects of climate change in the country, especially northern Ghana.

The appeal follows the National Petroleum Authority’s (NPA) proposal last month suggesting that customers should purchase Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) product at designated retail shops where the product would be packaged in cylinders for use instead of buying from LPG stations.

The new reform known as the Coca-Cola method would afford customers the opportunity to exchange their empty gas cylinders with the filled ones, and retail shops would be responsible for safety and quality standards. This, the Ministry noted, would help curb the spate of accidents and calamities that usually occured at many of the Gas filling stations in the country.

Speaking to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) at Paga in the Kassena-Nankana West District of the Upper East Region, the Coordinator, Mr Julius Awaregya, stated that the speedy implementation of the reform would reduce accidents and help in addressing the spate of environmental degradation that characterised the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions.

Buttressing his point, the Coordinator stated that statistics available at the Renewable Energy Unit of the Ministry of Energy, indicated that the three regions of the North were the most affected in terms of fuel wood consumption, and said the Northern Region was leading with 78 per cent, Upper West Region 75 per cent and Upper East Region 62 per cent.

The Coordinator, who blamed the problem partly on the lack of access to affordable and efficient energy systems like LPG and improved cooking stoves, stated that due to the availability of the product in the Greater Accra Region, only four per cent of consumers used fuel wood and charcoal as sources of cooking energy.

He stated that the problem in Northern Ghana would worsen if pragmatic measures were not adopted to address the issues and suggested immediate implementation of the cylinder re-circulation reform as a practical measure to arrest the problem.

He argued that “the lack of access to cleaner energy is due to lack of population threshold in the many communities in the North to attract filling station business men to set up stations in rural District most of whom are in the three Regions of the North which compelled many consumers who can afford to rely on traditional cooking methods and fuels with its great cause of desertification”.

According to him, when this is done it would lead to increased access, efficient and sustainable energy since the product would be placed at vantage points in many communities for customers to patronise. “As a country, If we succeed in the implementation of the reform, we are likely to reduce the consumption of biomass and charcoal production in this country particularly in the three Northern Regions and help curb environmental degradation”, he stressed.

The Coordinator stated that ORGIIS as an Environmental NGO was worried that when Ghana missed the ECOWAS White Paper for Energy Access for cooking by 2015, which had the goal of ensuring that many people switched from the traditional cooking systems to cleaner energy fuel cooking systems.

He stressed that for the country to meet the Sustainable Energy for all Policy Target for 2030 which had the goal of providing access to affordable, efficient and sustainable energy for all people 2030, there was the need to implement the proposed new reform.

He indicated that to complement government’s effort at promoting the use of Energy cooking systems, his outfit with funding support from SNV, the Netherlands Development Organization was implementing the “Voice for Change Partnership Project” which is aimed at Implementing the cleaner Energy Components including LPG and improved cooking stoves in the Kassena-Nankana Municipal and Kassena-Nankana West in the Upper East Region.

He cited instances where some women in the rural settings in the north had to compete with farmers for “cow dung” and plant residuals for cooking meals which made most women go through drudgery in collecting such fuel sources and mentioned that the smoke from such traditional cooking systems contributed to the range of chronic illnesses and acute health impacts such as stroke, lung cancer and other respiratory illnesses with women especially pregnant ones and children being the most affected.

He  stated that the Voice for Change Partnership Project which would focus on increasing access to affordable, efficient and sustainable energy solutions with emphasis on cooking and access to off-grid electrification, would work with Municipal and District Assemblies, environmental protection agency,  the Forest Commission, traditional rulers, Assembly members and service providers of LPG and improved Cooking stoves to ensure sustainable supply and access to cleaner and affordable cooking fuels such as LPG, and improved Cooking stoves devices for end users.

“It will encourage those who can afford to shift to cleaner fuels to do so and those who cannot afford to use the local energy sources in an efficient and sustainable manner using modern methods and improved technologies and techniques such as improved Cooking stoves”.

GNA