Mrs Hannah Owusu-Koranteng, Associate Executive Director of WACAM, an environmental friendly NGO, has called on Ghanaians to appreciate and protect the nation?s water bodies and forest reserves from further destruction.

She said the rate at which the nation?s forest and water bodies were being destroyed, especially by the mining industry; a time would come where Ghana would have to import water and wood lumber.
Mrs Owusu-Koranteng expressed these sentiment during a two-day sensitization workshop organized by WACAM in Tema in the Greater Accra Region for some personnel from the media, security agencies, Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) and NGOS from the Western, Eastern, Central, Brong-Ahafo and Greater Accra regions.
The workshop was to among others educate the participants on the effects of mining, community rights and gaps in the mining law.
She pointed out that though the mining sector had contributed about six percent to the nation?s GDP and accounts for 40 percent of foreign exchange earnings, it was not without associated problems like conflicts, pollution of water bodies, health risk, environmental degradation, livelihood losses, displacement and abandoned pits among others.
?These associated social environmental and economic problems have become developmental problems to the country,? she added.
Mrs Owusu-Koranteng lamented that discussions on mining has always been around revenues with little mention of environmental pollution, human rights abuses and the potential loss of livelihoods associated with the mineral exploitation, adding that, most often mining communities were compelled to cede their land to mining companies .
She said the exploitation has also been associated with various forms of human rights violation, which had led to conflicts between host communities and mining companies, and stressed that, ?the use of military to brutalize community members in their quest in demanding protection of their rights and property, was one but a few of several rights violated across many mining communities?.
She noted that these marginalized communities were normally in the rural areas where poverty, illiteracy and ignorance are high, adding that there was low consciousness about rights issues within these areas and coupled with their weak capacities it made it very difficult for them to engage in technical issues about mining investment.
The Associate Executive Director of WACAM stated that the limitations in the mining regulatory framework has become a safe haven for several mining companies to make enormous profit from their operation by infringing on the rights of marginalized mining communities.
Mrs Owusu-Koranteng said the minerals and mining law as of now was silent on cyanide spillage and chemical pollution of water bodies and that it did not also make any provision for ?No Go Zones? to protect communities and national landmarks.
She indicated that surface mining was classified as a major polluting industry and required strong regulation due to it negative economic, environmental, cultural and social effects.
She said there should be a clear demarcation of active mining operations from communities, water bodies and protected areas of the country and the practice where surface mining companies used water heads for mining activities should be outlawed.
Mr Samuel Obiri, a research fellow at the Centre for Environmental Impact Analysis (CEIA), expressed concern about the heavy pollution of water bodies in mining communities which has exposed the people to arsenic disease such as skin cancer, black foot disease, hypotension, hypertension and shocks as well as liver and kidney failure.
He also mentioned anemia, skin, liver, lung and blood cancers, spontaneous abortions in women and infertility among men and women as others diseases caused by the exposure to arsenic and called on all to join the crusade against the heavy pollution of the nation?s water bodies.



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