Since 2000, Ghana has lost half of its forests.
As deforestation progresses, more land is deprived of sun-blocking tree cover and turned into barren desert. With the help of a $5.5 million investment by the Climate Investment Funds (CIF), Ghana is defending its forests, the leafy canopy that maintains shade and moisture in the earth, limits greenhouse gas emissions, and preserves the ecosystem.
Through a combination of community outreach, education, and training, the CIF-funded project called DGM Ghana is helping Ghanaians whose livelihoods depend on forests combat and reverse deforestation.
DGM stands for Dedicated Grant Mechanism for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities. It was developed by CIF’s Forest Investment Program to fight forest loss by strengthening knowledge and practice of sustainable forest management.
In just five months, the project trained 9,000 community members in the Brong Ahafo region in Twi, their local dialect. The training focuses on ways for the population to mitigate the effects of climate change with different strategies: livelihood diversification, soil and water conservation measures, climate-smart agriculture, agroforestry, tree planting, drought-resistant cropping, and reduction in unsustainable practices.
“I was just about to cut down a sapling close to my cashew tree. Then I remembered what I learned only yesterday from the DGM training about preserving trees on my farm,” said Abubakar Sadik, a beneficiary in the Babatorkuma community, who decided to let the sapling grow.
The project also involves a partnership between CIF’s Forest Investment Program and the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) for the purpose of encouraging cocoa farmers to plant thousands of shade trees. “Our goal was to supply 700,000 tree seedlings to cocoa farmers in 2018,” said Abdella Seidu Ali, a forest manager.
At first, farmers were reluctant to plant the seedlings on their farms. But this situation changed when DGM Ghana, in collaboration with Ghana’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture, started offering in-depth training on climate-smart agriculture to cocoa farmers.
“Thanks to insights gained from the training I am planting tree seedlings on my farms and am convinced it will help,” said Sarah, a 36-year-old local farmer.
To get the key messages about CIF’s program across to the public, Solidaridad, the implementing agency for DGM Ghana, named popular rapper Okyeame Kwame as climate change ambassador. It is a responsibility he relishes.
In his new role, Kwame does interviews, makes local appearances, holds rap/poetry contests, and participates in radio shows. He also uses music to teach school children and members of the community about land use and smart forestry.
Determined to get through to young people, Kwame said, “We have to make the climate change conversation cool!”