Ms Sherry Ayittey, the Minister of Environment, Science and Technology, on Wednesday tasked the people of Ada and other communities along the coast to make environmental management a priority by maintaining good sanitation.
She said there had been an increase in contamination of coastal waters from local populations and indiscriminate disposal of plastic bags and garbage in public areas along the beach.
This, the minister said, had resulted in destruction of mangroves and wetlands leading to loss of coastal habitats and land degradation. The minister was speaking at the inauguration of the Steering Committee for the Collaborative Actions for Sustainable Tourism (COAST) Project at Ada.
The cost of the Project is about half a million dollars. The 12-member steering committee is expected to assist the Focal Points and the Demonstration Project Coordinator together with relevant local partners to implement the project to the letter throughout the implementation phase of the demonstration.
Ms Ayittey said the coasts in the country were plagued with several problems, especially the persistent problem of solid and liquid waste disposal. She stated that most communities along the coast lacked public and household toilet facilities and even places where they were available, they were not adequate.
"It is therefore a common sight to see people using the beaches, the fringes of lagoons and rivers and the bush as a place of convenience." The problem, according to the minister, needed to be tackled to enable the country to realise the full benefits of the COAST potentials by developing new infrastructure and improving on existing ones.
Madam Ayittey explained that self-discipline was important to promote public awareness and involvement of rural people in marine and coastal biodiversity conservation to maintain life-sustaining systems, preserve attractive areas and to enhance the potential of recreation, tourism and income-generating opportunities.
She noted that Ada, a key tourist destination, had lost 150 metres of land to the sea as a result of coastal erosion over the past 45 years and cautioned against sand winning to reduce degradation of the coastal ecosystem and environmental degradation in the tourism sector.
The minister urged the residents to contribute meaningfully to the goals of the Project by planting trees along the beaches, adding that they should not hesitate to report persons acting contrary to the law. She called on all stakeholders, especially the local steering committee, to play their roles and facilitate the achievement of the project objectives.
Mr Dan Wussah, Dangme East District Chief Executive, expressed gratitude to the ministry for their support and appealed to the people of Ada to complement the efforts of government by mobilizing resources towards the success of the project. The COAST Project is a collaborative initiative between the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation(UNIDO) and the Ministry with supporting Agencies like United Nations Tourism Organisation and the Ministry of Tourism.
The Project, which is being implemented by nine African countries, including Ghana, will for the next three years lay the foundation for the sustainable development of coastal communities privileged to be located within the project area.
The Project, among other objectives, is to implement and evaluate eco-certification and environmental management systems for use by private sector and community-led investments, develop eco-tourism initiatives to alleviate poverty through sustainable alternative livelihoods, and generate revenues for the conservation of biodiversity for the benefit of local communities.
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