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Deforestation, Poverty among Women in the Nanumba North Municipality

Scientists from all across the world have arrived at the conclusion that the catastrophic effects of climate change are no longer a remote possibility. Climate change and its consequences have arrived. The phenomenon of climate change has various degrees of impact on both rich and poor countries as it does to women and men globally. Its impact is manifested in the income generation sources of women in Nanumba North Municipality.



Deforestation has become a regular occurrence among rural residents. The destruction of shea parklands, which has devastating economic consequences for women, is a particular source of worry regarding deforestation in the municipality. Women in the shea nut collection industry are the least to blame for the shea tree’s decline. Nonetheless, they are usually the ones that endure the brunt of the consequences.


These women are clearly economically disadvantaged. They rely on the land and shea trees for a living. They now have poor revenue levels due to the decline in the amount of shea trees. Shea nut pickers have no savings or insurance. In practice, they are struggling to provide for their families and have no safety net. Perhaps the only collateral is the small amount of shea nut stock they have from the seasonal harvest. The scenario has a significant impact on the well-being of the mothers and their children. Children, especially young girls, miss school to undertake menial labor to supplement their families’ meager income.

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Aside from monetary benefits, shea trees give cooking oil to households via the shea nut. This relieves low-income women of the burden of purchasing cooking oil with their meager earnings. Shea trees also provide skin moisturizer, hair conditioner, medication, raw fruits, and soap. The environmental impact of shea trees is difficult to quantify. Without immediate intervention, the destruction of the shea trees will push the women deeper into poverty.


The Municipality’s shea tree depletion is blamed on bushfires, storms, and indiscriminate felling for charcoal and other purposes. Unfortunately, there appears to be no interest in bushfire prevention in the country. The goal of the (PNDC Law 46) passed in 1983 was to make it illegal to start fires except for agricultural, forestry, and game management purposes.



Section (2) of PNDC Law 229 (Act 1990), which deals with the Control and Prevention of Bushfires, states that “a person starts a bushfire if an action of that person results in the uncontrolled burning of any farm, forest or grassland. The Act further states that a person who contravenes or fails to comply with any provision of this Act (Act 229) commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of not less than two hundred and fifty penalty units and not more than one thousand penalty units or to a term of imprisonment or community labour not exceeding 12 months or to both the fine and the imprisonment or community labour and for a subsequent offence to a term of imprisonment or community labour not exceeding two years. However, there have not been concrete efforts on the part of duty-bearers to operationalized this law. The lack of interest and effort have made bush fire looks like a legal act.

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According to GNA, “a total of 249,373 hectors of forest reserves and plantations, equivalent to more than 600,000 typical football pitches, were lost to bush fires between 2011 and 2021.” This will undoubtedly have a negative impact on the shea trees.


The need for farmland and the charcoal trade have been highlighted as factors for tree cutting in rural communities. Farmers continue to expand their agriculture holdings, while others cut down forests for charcoal production. All of these have a negative impact on tree cover, especially shea trees. According to Global Forest Watch, Ghana lost 1.41 million hectares of tree cover between 2001 and 2021, a 20 percent decline in tree cover since 2000.

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According to some, a shea tree takes roughly 30 years to mature since it develops slowly from seed. This means that when a shea tree is taken down, it takes more than two decades for another to grow. This clearly necessitates immediate action to protect the tree and the livelihoods of rural women in the Nanumba North Municipality.


One essential strategy to avoiding deforestation, according to the Ghana National Climate Change Adaptation Strategies (NCCAS), is to raise local knowledge. People are empowered to act positively when they are provided accurate knowledge about the hazards of chopping down trees, particularly the shea tree. To change habits at the community level, a deliberate communication strategy must be implemented. This will have far-reaching consequences in the campaign to protect livelihoods women and shea tree.


There is also a need to consider alternate income generation programs for shea pickers and farmers in general. Programs that assure a constant flow of cash will help keep trees from being cut down for money. More importantly, climate justice must be incorporated into all initiatives and policies.







Source: MG

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